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Arbitrer pour chiffrer. Les comptables nationaux et l’énonciation de l’économie

Abstract : Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the main representation of a national economy; in France it is measured by the National Accounts Department of the French statistical institute, through two separate calculation processes. Far from ending the work of quantification, these calculations instead create problems: they result in two different amounts of GDP and make the representation of the national economy incoherent. To reach a coherent picture, national accountants work on the numbers during what they call arbitration. At the crossroads of the sociology of quantification and workplace studies, this article focuses on the way arbitration takes place in practice. It investigates the singular form of activity that makes it possible to quantify the national economy despite the calculation issues. My analysis is based on a nine-month period of ethnographic fieldwork within the National Accounts Department. It shows that the measurement of GDP is never a simple implementation of mathematical operations, but involves interpretative work on the numbers, as they convey economic narratives. It is the meticulous and collective evaluation of the quality of these narratives that ultimately makes it possible to build a unique and quantified representation of the national economy.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, July 6, 2021 - 8:45:18 AM
Last modification on : Friday, April 1, 2022 - 3:46:26 AM

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Quentin Dufour. Arbitrer pour chiffrer. Les comptables nationaux et l’énonciation de l’économie. Sociologie du Travail, Association pour le développement de la sociologie du travail, 2021, 63 (2), ⟨10.4000/sdt.39018⟩. ⟨hal-03278854⟩



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