Some Arguments Concerning the Production and Use of Official Statistics

  • Barry Hindess
Part of the Studies in Sociology book series (SS)


CHAPTER 1 has identified two types of argument relating to the production of official statistics and their use by social scientists: that concerned with the making and recording of observations and that concerned with the processing and assembling of statistical materials out of observers’ reports. These appear to show that official statistics do not and cannot correspond to the structure of ‘real-world’ objects and events and that they cannot be taken as a more or less reliable account of some real situation. Following a short exposition, I shall argue that these positions must lead to an agnosticism with respect to what Douglas calls ‘real-world’ objects and to a complete and systematic relativism. These consequences are a necessary effect of their authors’ ‘positivist’ conception of knowledge as founded upon individual experience together with their effective denial of a pre-theoretical observation language by the sociologising of the categories of observation and description.


Official Statistic Tacit Knowledge Probation Officer Rational Knowledge Correspondence Rule 


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Copyright information

© British Sociological Association 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Hindess
    • 1
  1. 1.Lecturer in Social StatisticsUniversity of LiverpoolUK

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