Culture, Value and Commensuration: The knowledge politics of indicators

  • Guy Redden
Part of the New Directions in Cultural Policy Research book series (NDCPR)


The recent growth in quantitative calculation and its increased application to the social have been widely noted by theorists. Nigel Thrift (2008, 92) coins the term ‘qualculation’ to describe the ways that qualities of diverse phenomena are now routinely quantified and enrolled into calculative processes. For Alain Badiou (2008, 2–3), the ideology of modern parliamentary societies is not humanism or law but, rather, ‘number, the countable, countability’. Governmentality theorists also stress the numericisation of public discourse, in particular through the rise of economics. This has ostensibly occurred to the extent that ‘there is a constitutive interrelationship between quantification and democratic government’ (Rose 1991, 675). In short, numeric solutions to political and social affairs seem to be everywhere, and they cannot but have some influence on the conduct of public life. Nikolas Rose (1991, 673) argues that participation in such a democracy comes on certain, problematic terms because:

Paradoxically, in the same process in which numbers achieve a privileged status in political decisions, they simultaneously promise a ‘de-politicization’ of politics, redrawing the boundaries between politics and objectivity by purporting to act as automatic technical mechanisms for making judgments, prioritizing problems and allocating scarce resources.


Social Indicator Cultural Indicator Knowledge Politics Creative Industry Social Indicator Research 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Guy Redden 2015

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  • Guy Redden

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