The purpose of this paper is to advance some theoretical-methodological propositions about analyzing official statistics in the contemporary world: it is going to underline how the category of ambivalence is important in order to improve our comprehension of official statistics. In the second section, we will give a brief overview on contemporary sociology of official statistics. In the third and fourth sections, the focus will be on the ‘French theory’ – probably, the hegemonic current now – starting from Pierre Bourdieu’s analysis of the State, one of the most important issues in order to better understand this perspective. This analysis points out as French theory considers just rationalization processes. Control, dominion as well as alienation are the main subjects, a set of ideas based on a structuralist point of view which does not actually consider the possibility of social change. The ambivalence (or social contradiction in Marxism terms) of every sociopolitical process – including the making and using of official statistics – is systematically underestimated. Beyond the dominion there is the subject and the conflict in a shared field of historicity: ethic and social claims need official statistics too. Eventually, the fifth section will focus on our theoretical-methodological proposal based on re-embedding the category of the statistical system in a more complex vision where ambivalence is essential.
Antonelli, F. (2016). Ambivalence of official statistics: some theoretical-methodological notes. REVUE INTERNATIONALE DE SOCIOLOGIE, 26(3) [10.1080/03906701.2016.1244924].