Alain Desrosières’s spectacles: one lens realist, the other constructivist

  • Emmanuel DidierEmail author
Part of the Logic, Argumentation & Reasoning book series (LARI, volume 13)


This paper focuses one central problem that Alain Desrosières has tackled during his whole career, namely how to articulate the two contradictory natures of statistics, that they are at the same times real and constructed. To understand the different strategies that he followed to solve it, we focus on his writing techniques. He was acutely aware of the importance of rhetoric, as shown among other things by his activity as journal editor at the INSEE and by his paper on the importance of the “writing styles” in the genre of the history of statistics. We show that he wrote first and foremost narratives, in which the subject of the action is very often downplayed of even absent. His narrative techniques allowed him to build a very solid bridge between statistics and politics.


Statistical Tool Mathematical Tool Uniform Standard Passive Voice Social Question 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Boltanski, L. (2005). La condition foetale. Gallimard: Paris.Google Scholar
  2. Daston, L. (2000). Why statistics tend not only to describe the world but to change it. London Review of Books, 13, 35-36.Google Scholar
  3. Desrosières, A. (1998). The politics of large numbers. A history of statistical reasoning. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Desrosières, A. (2000) L’histoire de la statistique comme genre: style d’écriture et usages sociaux. Genèses. 39, 121-137.Google Scholar
  5. Desrosières, A. (2003). Managing the Economy. In Porter, T. M., & Ross, D. (Eds.). The Cambridge History of Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 553-564.Google Scholar
  6. Desrosières, A. (2005). Hors série spécial Alain Desrosières. Courrier des Statistiques.Google Scholar
  7. Desrosières, A. (2014). Prouver et gouverner. Une analyse politique des statistiques publiques. Paris: La Découverte.Google Scholar
  8. Halbwachs, M. (1992). On collective memory. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Epidapo (UMI 3663), UCLA Institute for Society and GeneticsLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations