America By The Numbers: Quantification, Democracy, And The Birth Of National Statistics

byEmmanuel DidierTranslated byPriya Vari Sen

April 7, 2020|
America By The Numbers: Quantification, Democracy, And The Birth Of National Statistics by Emmanuel Didier
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How new techniques of quantification shaped the New Deal and American democracy.

When the Great Depression struck, the US government lacked tools to assess the situation; there was no reliable way to gauge the unemployment rate, the number of unemployed, or how many families had abandoned their farms to become migrants. In America by the Numbers, Emmanuel Didier examines the development in the 1930s of one such tool: representative sampling. Didier describes and analyzes the work of New Deal agricultural economists and statisticians who traveled from farm to farm, in search of information that would be useful for planning by farmers and government agencies. Didier shows that their methods were not just simple enumeration; these new techniques of quantification shaped the New Deal and American democracy even as the New Deal shaped the evolution of statistical surveys.

Didier explains how statisticians had to become detectives and anthropologists, searching for elements that would help them portray America as a whole. Representative surveys were one of the most effective instruments for their task. He examines pre-Depression survey techniques; the invention of the random sampling method and the development of the Master Sample; and the application of random sampling by employment experts to develop the “Trial Census of Unemployment.”

Emmanuel Didier is a Full Professor at the Centre Maurice Halbwachs at École Normale Supérieure, Paris, and a member of the Center for the Study of Invention and Social Process at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is a founding member of EpiDaPo (Epigenetics, Data, Politics), initially a joint research unit of CNRS an...
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Title:America By The Numbers: Quantification, Democracy, And The Birth Of National StatisticsFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:432 pages, 9 X 7 X 1.03 inShipping dimensions:432 pages, 9 X 7 X 1.03 inPublished:April 7, 2020Publisher:MIT PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0262538377

ISBN - 13:9780262538374

Appropriate for ages: All ages

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