Commensuration as a social process

Wendy Nelson Espeland*, Mitchell L. Stevens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

865 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although it is evident in routine decision-making and a crucial vehicle of rationalization, commensuration as a general social process has been given little consideration by sociologists. This article defines commensuration as the comparison of different entities according to a common metric, notes commensuration's long history as an instrument of social thought, analyzes commensuration as a mode of power, and discusses the cognitive and political stakes inherent in calling something incommensurable. We provide a framework for future empirical study of commensuration and demonstrate how this analytic focus can inform established fields of sociological inquiry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-343
Number of pages31
JournalAnnual Review of Sociology
Volume24
DOIs
StatePublished - 1998

Keywords

  • Commodification
  • Measurement
  • Quantification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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