In the last few decades, the field of “quantification” – namely the “sociology of quantification” – has evolved and it has shown an impressing development. There are many different strands of science contributing research on processes of quantification and the impact of quantification within social contexts. The concept of quantification is positioned at the crossroad linking approaches such as accounting theory, convention theory (économie des conventions), sociology and history of statistics, analysis of commensuration, sociology of standards and of standardization, analysis of benchmarking, and others.
Alain Desrosières was an internationally renowned scholar in the fields of sociology of quantification and history of statistics. His work can be regarded as the most important contribution to this field. Desrosières was also a “compagnon de route” of the French movement of the so-called “économie des conventions” which postulated the convention-based (and therefore social) nature of qualities, categories and quantities. Consequently, Desrosières’ work was also one of the main inspirations for this HSR Special Issue.
This HSR Special Issue presents recent and transdisciplinary research on the history and sociology of quantification. Building upon the work of Desrosières, this issue includes contributions on the history of science from the eighteenth century to today, covering topics such as: the millennium development goals, financial quantification, and quantification in higher education environments. All in all, the contributions work out the “political economy” as well as the “political sociology” of statistics, categorization, and quantification.