The Consequences of Quantification on Narratives of Interpersonal Violence

Max Greenberg, Boston University

Since the 1970s, efforts to collect and interpret data on interpersonal violence has expanded, however we know little about the consequences of this process on the way actors conceptualize and act on such violence. When narratives of violence are quantified, what are the cultural consequences for the meanings attached to violence? This paper draws on recollective interviews, primary organizational documents, and secondary sources to trace the rise of inter-personal violence data from 1972 until the present and examine the consequences for organizations, ideologies and identities. Organizations oriented themselves towards paradoxical relationships with quantification: while they held up the data as evidence of the legitimacy of the problem, they questioned the capacity of data to represent lived experience. Organizations and individuals learned how to tell new stories of violence that avoided the linkages between the particular and the structural and instead spoke to the associations illuminated by the data.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 134. Mobilizing Scientific Knowledge in Epistemic Communities