The Mutual Construction of Statistics and Society  book cover
1st Edition

The Mutual Construction of Statistics and Society

ISBN 9780415873703
Published July 20, 2010 by Routledge
314 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Statistics are often seen as simple, straightforward, and objective descriptions of society. However, what we choose to count, what we choose not to count, who does the counting, and the categories and values we choose to apply when counting, matter. This volume addresses the ways in which statistics and numbers are gathered and applied in social science research. The contributors argue that we must become more aware of the power and the limitations of statistics. Learning statistics needs to be about more than simply mastering the techniques of using the tool; it needs to also be about learning the dangers of that tool and learning to control it within social and ethical bounds. These dangers lie in the routines through which statistics are applied; the discourses from which they emerge and into which they are deployed; the power relations created by those discourses; and the assumptions, meanings, and categories statistics carry with them in those discourses. This volume will be necessary reading for students and scholars using quantitative data within the social sciences.

Table of Contents

Introduction: By the Very Act of Counting: The Mutual Construction of Statistics and Society  Ann Rudinow Sætnan, Heidi Mork Lomell and Svein Hammer  Section 1: Overarching Themes and Approaches  1. Numbers: Their Relation to Power and Organization  Jon Hovland  2. Words and Numbers: For a Sociology of the Statistical Argument  Alain Desrosières  3. Sociology in the Making: Statistics as a Mediator Between the Social Sciences, Practice, and the State  Christopher Kullenberg  4. Governing by Indicators and Outcomes: A Neo-Liberal Governmentality?  Svein Hammer  Section 2: Visibility, Invisibility and Transparency  5. Ethnicity: Differences and Measurements  Ellen Balka and Kjetil Rodje  6. Seeing Like Citizens: Unofficial Understandings of Official Racial Categories in a Brazilian University  Luisa Farah Schwartzman  7. Ideas in Action: ‘Human Development’ and ‘Capability’ as Intellectual Boundary Objects  Asun Lera St. Clair  Section 3: Accountability and Manageability  8. Labelling and Tracking the Criminal in Mid-Nineteenth Century England and Wales: The Relationship Between Governmental Structures and Creating Official Numbers  Chris Williams  9. From Categorization to Public Policy: The Multiple Roles of Electronic Triage  Ellen Balka  10. Making Sense of Numbers: The Presentation of Crime Statistics in the Oslo Police Annual Reports 1950-2008  Heidi Mork Lomell  11. Statistics on a Website: Governing Schools by Numbers  Svein Hammer and Sigrunn Tvedten  12. Locating the Worths of Performance Indicators: Performing Transparencies and Accountabilities in Health Care  Sonja Jerak-Zuiderent and Roland Bal  Section 4: Reporting and Acts of Resistance  13. Co-Constructing Medical Diagnosis Practice and Hospital Activity Statistics: How Coding Practices Turn Patients into Numbers  Gunnhild Tøndel  14. GIS in Practice: Domestication of Statistics in Policing  Helene I. Gundhus

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Ann Rudinow Sætnan is Professor of Sociology at the Department of Sociology and Political Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Svein Hammer is a Post-doc in the Department of Sociology and Political Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Heidi Mork Lomell is Post-doctoral research fellow at the Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law, University of Oslo.