Article | Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research | Funny Numbers

Title:
Funny Numbers
Author:
Theodore M. Porter: University of California, Los Angeles, USA
DOI:
10.3384/cu.2000.1525.124585
Read article:
Full article (pdf)
Year:
2012
Volume:
4
Theme:
Theme: Objectification, Measurement and Standardization Edited by Tord Larsen

Pages:
585-598
No. of pages:
14
Publication type:
Article
Published:
2013-01-24


The struggle over cure rate measures in nineteenth-century asylums provides an exemplary instance of how, when used for official assessments of institutions, these numbers become sites of contestation. The evasion of goals and corruption of measures tends to make these numbers “funny” in the sense of becoming dishonest, while the mismatch between boring, technical appearances and cunning backstage manipulations supplies dark humor. The dangers are evident in recent efforts to decentralize the functions of governments and corporations using incen-tives based on quantified targets.

Keywords: Funny numbers; history of mental hospitals; history of statistics; standardization of statistics; statistics of mental illness; technicality; thin description

Volume 4, Theme: Theme: Objectification, Measurement and Standardization Edited by Tord Larsen

, Article 32, 2012

Author:
Theodore M. Porter
Title:
Funny Numbers:
DOI:
10.3384/cu.2000.1525.124585
References:
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  • Volume 4, Theme:: Theme: Objectification, Measurement and Standardization Edited by Tord Larsen

    , Article 32, 2012

    Author:
    Theodore M. Porter
    Title:
    Funny Numbers:
    DOI:
    10.3384/cu.2000.1525.124585
    Note: the following are taken directly from CrossRef
    Citations:
  • Ian Hardy (2015). ‘I’m just a numbers person’: the complexity, nature and effects of the quantification of education. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 25(1): 20. DOI: 10.1080/09620214.2014.972971
  • Daniel Pettersson, Thomas S. Popkewit & Sverker Lindblad (2017). In the grey zone: large-scale assessment-based activities betwixt and between policy, research and practice. Nordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policy, 3(1): 29. DOI: 10.1080/20020317.2017.1316181
  • Nerida Spina (2017). Governing by numbers: Local effects on students' experiences of writing. English in Education, 51(1): 14. DOI: 10.1111/eie.12109
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