A sociology of quantification

Wendy Nelson Espeland*, Mitchell L. Stevens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

425 Scopus citations


One of the most notable political developments of the last thirty years has been increasing public and governmental demand for the quantification of social phenomena, yet sociologists generally have paid little attention to the spread of quantification or the significance of new regimes of measurement. Our article addresses this oversight by analyzing quantification - the production and communication of numbers - as a general sociological phenomenon. Drawing on scholarship across the social sciences in Europe and North America as well as humanistic inquiry, we articulate five sociological dimensions of quantification and call for an ethics of numbers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-436
Number of pages36
JournalArchives Europeennes de Sociologie
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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