Historical Social Research

41.2 - Conventions and Quantification

HSR Vol. 41 (2016) No. 2: Special Issue: Conventions and Quantification

Rainer Diaz-Bone & Emmanuel Didier (Eds.): Conventions and Quantification – Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Statistics and Classifications

In the last few decades, the field of “quantification” – namely the “sociology of quantification” – has evolved and it has shown an impressing development. There are many different strands of science contributing research on processes of quantification and the impact of quantification within social contexts. The concept of quantification is positioned at the crossroad linking approaches such as accounting theory, convention theory (économie des conventions), sociology and history of statistics, analysis of commensuration, sociology of standards and of standardization, analysis of benchmarking, and others.

Alain Desrosières was an internationally renowned scholar in the fields of sociology of quantification and history of statistics. His work can be regarded as the most important contribution to this field. Desrosières was also a “compagnon de route” of the French movement of the so-called “économie des conventions” which postulated the convention-based (and therefore social) nature of qualities, categories and quantities. Consequently, Desrosières’ work was also one of the main inspirations for this HSR Special Issue.

This HSR Special Issue presents recent and transdisciplinary research on the history and sociology of quantification. Building upon the work of Desrosières, this issue includes contributions on the history of science from the eighteenth century to today, covering topics such as: the millennium development goals, financial quantification, and quantification in higher education environments. All in all, the contributions work out the “political economy” as well as the “political sociology” of statistics, categorization, and quantification.

Furthermore this HSR contains a Mixed Issue with one article on „Societal Malaise and Ethnocentrism in the European Union: Monitoring Societal Change by Focusing on EU Citizens’ Perceptions of Crisis".

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41.2 - Table of Contents & Abstracts

Rainer Diaz-Bone & Emmanuel Didier (Eds.): Special Issue – Conventions and Quantification – Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Statistics and Classifications
  • Rainer Diaz-Bone & Emmanuel Didier: The Sociology of Quantification – Perspectives on an Emerging Field in the Social Sciences[Abstract]
  • Contributions
  • Emmanuel Didier: Alain Desrosières and the Parisian Flock. Social Studies of Quantification in France since the 1970s. [Abstract]
  • Rainer Diaz-Bone: Convention Theory, Classification and Quantification. [Abstract]
  • Thomas Amossé: The Centre d’Etudes de l’Emploi (1970-2015): Statistics – On the Cusp of Social Sciences and the State. [Abstract]
  • Laurent Thévenot: From Social Coding to Economics of Convention: A Thirty-Year Perspective on the Analysis of Qualification and Quantification Investments. [Abstract]
  • Robert Salais: Quantification and Objectivity. From Statistical Conventions to Social Conventions. [Abstract]
  • Etienne Penissat, Cécile Brousse, Jérôme Deauvieau, Julien Chevillard, Emmanuelle Barozet & Oscar Mac-Clure: From Statistical Categorizations to Ordinary Categorizations of Social Space: History and Legacy of an Original Study Based on a Card Game. [Abstract]
  • Eve Chiapello & Christian Walter: The Three Ages of Financial Quantification: A Conventionalist Approach to the Financiers’ Metrology. [Abstract]
  • Corine Eyraud: Quantification Devices and Political or Social Philosophy. Thoughts Inspired by the French State Accounting Reform. [Abstract]
  • Fabian Muniesa: Setting the Habit of Capitalization: The Pedagogy of Earning Power at the Harvard Business School, 1920-1940. [Abstract]
  • Daniel Speich Chassé: The Roots of the Millennium Development Goals: A Framework for Studying the History of Global Statistics. [Abstract]
  • Lars Behrisch: Statistics and Politics in the 18th Century. [Abstract]
  • Martin Lengwiler: Risky Calculations: Financial Mathematics and Securitization since the 1970s. [Abstract]
  • Wendy Espeland: Reverse Engineering and Emotional Attachments as Mechanisms Mediating the Effects of Quantification. [Abstract]


Mixed Issue
  • Wolfgang Aschauer: Societal Malaise and Ethnocentrism in the European Union: Monitoring Societal Change by Focusing on EU Citizens’ Perceptions of Crisis. [Abstract]