2019-09-23Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/21297
Numbers matter! The society of indicators, scores and ratings
Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät
The process of quantification is a powerful development shaping many domains of life today. In the area of education, for example, performance measurement, testing and ranking have become common tools of governance. Quantification is not a neutral way of describing society, but a process of valorisation. It has three sociologically relevant effects. Firstly, the availability of quantitative data strengthens social comparisons. Secondly, quantitative measurement of social aspects fosters expanded competition. Thirdly, there is a trend towards increased social hierarchisation because representations such as tables, graphs, lists or scores ultimately transform qualitative differences into quantitative inequalities. This paper unfolds the argument that quantitative ascriptions of status ranks change our order of inequality because things that previously could not be compared with each other are made comparable. Moreover, it asks who bears the power of nomination in the regime of numbers and which forms of contestation might be available.
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This article was supported by the Open Access Publication Fund of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.