The Power of Numbers in Global Governance

Hans Krause Hansen, Arthur Mühlen-Schulte

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    The deployment of numbers have become a sine qua non in governance practices worldwide in recent decades. But the reasons behind this development and its implications for governance practices have not been systematically researched and theorised. This introductory article provides a short overview of the historical and contemporary role of numbers in different governance settings. It includes a discussion of the capacity of numbers to foster social identities, relations and truths across national boundaries, to construct issue areas and to enable various modes of surveillance, communication and action at a distance in the global political economy. It argues that the use of numbers in global governance should not be regarded only as a platform for knowledge sharing and learning. More than this, it needs to be understood in broader terms as a mechanism of inclusion and exclusion from complex social hierarchies and relations, as well as in relation to processes of politicisation and de-politicisation that transcend national spaces.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of International Relations and Development
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)455-465
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • Numbers
    • Performance Measurement
    • Global Governance
    • Govermentality
    • Actor-Networks
    • Pragmatism

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