What's New with Numbers? Sociological Approaches to the Study of Quantification

Andrea Mennicken, Wendy Nelson Espeland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Calculation and quantification have been critical features of modern societies, closely linked to science, markets, and administration. In the past thirty years, the pace, purpose, and scope of quantification have greatly expanded, and there has been a corresponding increase in scholarship on quantification. We offer an assessment of the widely dispersed literature on quantification across four domains where quantification and quantification scholarship have particularly flourished: administration, democratic rule, economics, and personal life. In doing so, we seek to stimulate more cross-disciplinary debate and exchange. We caution against unifying accounts of quantification and highlight the importance of tracking quantification across different sites in order to appreciate its essential ambiguity and conduct more systematic investigations of interactions between different quantification regimes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-245
Number of pages23
JournalAnnual Review of Sociology
StatePublished - Jul 30 2019


  • Quantification
  • commensuration
  • economization
  • politics of visibility
  • quantified self

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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