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Commensuration as a Social Process

Wendy Nelson Espeland and Mitchell L. Stevens
Annual Review of Sociology
Vol. 24 (1998), pp. 313-343
Published by: Annual Reviews
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/223484
Page Count: 31
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Commensuration as a Social Process
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Abstract

Although it is evident in routine decision-making and a crucial vehicle of rationalization, commensuration as a general social process has been given little consideration by sociologists. This article defines commensuration as the comparison of different entities according to a common metric, notes commensuration's long history as an instrument of social thought, analyzes commensuration as a mode of power, and discusses the cognitive and political stakes inherent in calling something incommensurable. We provide a framework for future empirical study of commensuration and demonstrate how this analytic focus can inform established fields of sociological inquiry.

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