Accountability, quantification, and law

Wendy Nelson Espeland*, Berit Irene Vannebo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

76 Scopus citations


Accountability can mean many things, but increasingly it is linked to quantification. This is true in many fields, including law. This review considers how the recent emphasis on quantitative accountability has influenced law and legal practices. Rather than offering a broad survey of quantitative techniques deployed in law, the article examines three legal contexts in which quantification has shaped how actors are held accountable: sentencing guidelines, cost-benefit analysis in regulation, and law school rankings. The conditions that promote rigorous quantification, its effects on professional discretion, relations of authority, and resistance are examined. The article suggests fruitful questions and strategies for analyzing more broadly the effects of quantification in law.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAnnual Review of Law and Social Science
EditorsJohn Hagan, Kim Lane Scheppele, Tom Tyler
Number of pages23
StatePublished - 2007

Publication series

NameAnnual Review of Law and Social Science
ISSN (Print)1550-3585


  • Law school rankings
  • Professional discretion
  • Quantitative authority
  • Regulatory impact assessment
  • Sentensing guidelines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Accountability, quantification, and law'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this