There’s a new issue of Contemporary Sociology out! In it you’ll find, among other things, a review essay by Elizabeth Popp Berman and myself about quantification. We look at eight recent books about numbers ranging from the “Quantified Self” movement to socially-responsible investing to CBO scoring in order to ask: the sociology of quantification, is it a thing? Our answer: kinda. Here’s a snippet:
Indeed, the very concept of quantification splinters into fragments as one approaches. Are algorithms quantification? Big data? Biosensors? And what are the differences between quantification, classification, and commensuration? While there are commonalities across all of these topics, and across the eight books we read, the sociology of quantification is still very far from having general claims or a common theoretical language. The closest it comes, probably, is the universal reference to Ted Porter’s groundbreaking Trust in Numbers (1995).