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Making It Count

Statistics and Statecraft in the Early People's Republic of China

Arunabh Ghosh

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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.

Weitere Titel von diesem Autor



Statistical unit, Superiority (short story), Great Leap Forward, Tax, Anti-Rightist Movement, Ideology, Tianjin, Decentralization, Zichan, Mass line, Newspaper, Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, Politics, Professionalization, Scientist, Dichotomy, National Archives of India, Social fact, Beijing, Handbook, Mathematical statistics, Jerzy Neyman, Princeton University Press, Indian Statistical Institute, Infrastructure, Statistical Science, Socialist state, Oral history, Capitalism, Supply (economics), Guideline, Technology, Tsinghua University, Social research, Graduate school, Soviet Union, Hebei, Mao Zedong, Central government, Survey sampling, Heilongjiang, Statistic, Zhu De, Peking University, On Practice, Sociology, Deliberation, Maoism, Estimation, Socialist society (Labour Party), Writing, Statistician, Institution, Dialectical materialism, Sampling (statistics), Utilization, Shenyang, Economy, Probability theory, Employment, Textbook, Economic statistics, Income, Nationalist government, Area studies, Statistical theory, Publication, Counting, Measurement, Social science, Economic planning, Political economy, Economics, Self-Reliance, Year, Requirement, Accounting, Demography, Agriculture, Bureaucrat, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Lecture, Yan'an, Zhou Enlai, Subjectivity, Agriculture (Chinese mythology), Implementation, First five-year plan (Soviet Union), China, Industrialisation, Economist, Statistics, Liu Shaoqi, Calculation, Keynesian economics, Xue, Criticism, Governance, Probability, Social engineering (political science)