Failed Indicatorisation: Defining, Comparing and Quantifying Social Policy in the ILO’s International Survey of Social Services of the Interwar Period

Version
1
Resource Type
Text : Journal article
Creator
  • Berten, John
Collective Title
  • Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung
    Vol. 44, No. 2 (2019)
Publication Date
2019-03
Embargo End Date
2019-09-13
Publication Place
Cologne
Contributor
  • GESIS - Leibniz-Institut für Sozialwissenschaften (Editor)
Publisher
  • GESIS - Leibniz-Institut für Sozialwissenschaften
Language
English
Free Keywords
Quantification; key indicators; Social policy; sociology of quantification; indicators; comparison; knowledge politics; international bureaucracies; International Labour Organization
Description
  • Abstract

    Despite social policy being one of the most quantified policy fields today, there is no singular indicator or set of indicators of social policy quality or performance on the global level that is universally accepted and influential, comparable to GDP in the economy. The article analyses and explains the unsuccessful indicatorisation in the ILO’s International Survey of Social Services of the interwar years. During this first elaborate study of social policies worldwide by an international organisation, difficult issues of defining, comparing, and quantifying social policy had to be solved for the first time. Theoretically, a sociology of knowledge approach on indicatorisation is utilised that highlights how social policy was questioned and evaluated. This illustrates the demanding work of comparing including a politicized knowledge production, identifying conditions and hindrances of defining and quantifying the 'social'. It is observed that different interests of participants, epistemic cultures, and practices, as well as bureaucratic procedures resulted in the mere inclusion of a provisional indicator of cost and little quantified data in the final Survey. Empirically, the article relies on an in-depth analysis of historical ILO documents.
  • Series Information

    Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung Vol. 44, No. 2 (2019): Special Issue: Governing by Numbers - Key Indicators and the Politics of Expectations.

    Starting Point and Frequency: Year: 1979, Issues per volume: 4, Volumes per year: 1

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Rights
CC BY 4.0
Relations
  • Is part of
    URL: https://www.gesis.org/en/hsr/full-text-archive/2019/442-governing-by-numbers
  • Is part of
    ISSN: 0172-6404
  • Is identical to
    URL: http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/eds/detail/detail?vid=14&sid=7010ea0d-cdd7-427f-bf94-fffeb8e807ba%40sessionmgr101&bdata=Jmxhbmc9ZGUmc2l0ZT1lZHMtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=edsgso.61911&db=edsgso

Update Metadata: 2020-02-12 | Issue Number: 4 | Registration Date: 2019-03-14