The Only Proper Scale of Representation": The Politics of Statistics and Stories
This essay explores the political resonances of quantitative methods in a reading of American discourse surrounding their social functions and virtues. Key texts are drawn from three periods: the founding period, the late nineteenth century, and social psychology in the mid-twentieth century. It is shown that the idea of quantification is closely associated with democratic ideals. In adopting these methods, scholars cloak themselves in the image of objective, deliberative, public-minded democratic participants. Critics of quantification indict its dehumanizing indifference to personal experience and its susceptibility to manipulation. It is concluded that quantification sits uneasily alongside history and story-telling as two poles of modern social description.
John Durham Peters. "The Only Proper Scale of Representation": The Politics of Statistics and Stories" Political Communication 18.4 (2001): 433-449.
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