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A history of how Chinese officials used statistics to define a new society in the early years of the People’s Republic of China

In 1949, at the end of a long period of wars, one of the biggest challenges facing leaders of the new People’s Republic of China was how much they did not know. The government of one of the world’s largest nations was committed to fundamentally reengineering its society and economy via socialist planning while having almost no reliable statistical data about their own country. Making It Count is the history of efforts to resolve this “crisis in counting.” Drawing on a wealth of sources culled from China, India, and the United States, Arunabh Ghosh explores the choices made by political leaders, statisticians, academics, statistical workers, and even literary figures in attempts to know the nation through numbers.

Ghosh shows that early reliance on Soviet-inspired methods of exhaustive enumeration became increasingly untenable in China by the mid-1950s. Unprecedented and unexpected exchanges with Indian statisticians followed, as the Chinese sought to learn about the then-exciting new technology of random sampling. These developments were overtaken by the tumult of the Great Leap Forward (1958–61), when probabilistic and exhaustive methods were rejected and statistics was refashioned into an ethnographic enterprise. By acknowledging Soviet and Indian influences, Ghosh not only revises existing models of Cold War science but also globalizes wider developments in the history of statistics and data.

Anchored in debates about statistics and its relationship to state building, Making It Count offers fresh perspectives on China’s transition to socialism.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
  2. pp. i-vi
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Illustrations and Tables
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Abbreviations
  2. pp. xi-xii
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  1. Acknowledgements
  2. pp. xiii-xvi
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  1. Making It Count
  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-22
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  1. PART I. A Statistical Revolution
  1. A New Type of Standardized Statistical Work
  2. pp. 25-54
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  1. Ascertaining Social Fact
  2. pp. 55-88
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  1. No “Mean” Solution: Reformulating Statistics, Disciplining Scientists
  2. pp. 89-124
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  1. PART II. Seeing Like a Socialist State
  1. The Nature of Statistical Work
  2. pp. 127-175
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  1. To “Ardently Love Our Statistical Work”: State (In)Capacity, Professionalization, and their Discontents
  2. pp. 176-210
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  1. PART III. Alternatives
  1. Seeking Common Ground Amidst Differences: The Turn to India
  2. pp. 213-248
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  1. A “Great Leap” in Statistics
  2. pp. 249-280
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  1. Conclusion
  2. pp. 281-288
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  1. Chinese Character Glossary
  2. pp. 289-296
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 297-330
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 331-342
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Additional Information

ISBN
9780691199214
Related ISBN
9780691179476
MARC Record
OCLC
1121419466
Pages
360
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-19
Language
English
Open Access
No
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