Article ID: CBB399530810

Lies, Damned Lies, and (Bourgeois) Statistics: Ascertaining Social Fact in Midcentury China and the Soviet Union (2018)


Is there a correct way to ascertain social fact? As late as the 1950s, the scientific community remained divided over this question. Its resolution involved not just epistemological and theoretical debates on the unity or disunity of statistical science but also practical considerations surrounding state-capacity building. For scientists in places like the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Soviet Union, at stake was the very ability to realize the kind of planned economic growth that socialist countries idealized. The solution they chose reformulated statistics explicitly as a social science, salvaging it from what they then dismissed as the tainted, bourgeois, and socially unproductive pursuit of mathematical statistics. This distinction—most tangibly understood as the rejection of all probabilistic methods—had implications for both the ways in which data was collected and the ways in which it was analyzed.

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Article Lukas Rieppel; Eugenia Lean; William Deringer (2018) Introduction: The Entangled Histories of Science and Capitalism. Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 1-24). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Jersild, Austin
Isaacson, Nathaniel
Bini, Elisabetta
Liu, Jinyan
Vezzosi, Elisabetta
Zhang, Baichun
Contemporary European History
Ziran Kexueshi Yanjiu (Studies in the History of Natural Sciences)
Science as Culture
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
History of European Ideas
Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung
University of Chicago Press
University of California Press
Institut National d'Études Démographiques
Duke University Press
Science and politics
Social sciences
Science and economics
Cold War
Young, Robert Maxwell
Tingsten, Herbert
Kotkin, Stephen
Foucault, Michel
Time Periods
20th century, late
20th century
20th century, early
Soviet Union
People's Republic of China
Eastern Europe
Chinese Academy of Sciences

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