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Making Things Quantitative

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2008

Theodore M. Porter
Department of HistoryUniversity of California, Los Angeles


Quantification is not merely a strategy for describing the social and natural worlds, but a means of reconfiguring them. It entails the imposition of new meanings and the disappearance of old ones. Often it is allied to systems of experimental or administrative control, and in fact considerable feats of human organization are generally required even to create stable, reasonably standardized measures. This essay urges that the uses of quantification in science, social science, and bureaucratic social and economic policy are analogous in important ways to accountancy.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1994

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