Statistics as a Technology of Governance: The Norwegian Need for Numbers & Numbers for Need
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonInternational journal of sociology and social policy. 2013, 33 (7/8), 474-490. 10.1108/IJSSP-12-2012-0107
Purpose - This study explores the development in Norway from an awareness of the need for numbers to govern in the 70s to a statistical information system launched in 2006, called IPLOS, to respond to this need. The article discuss how this system was developed, what the Norwegian authorities attempted to achieve with the development, which goals they desired and how the statistics was intended to contribute to reach them. Design/methodology/approach - This study has a multisite approach inspired by situational analysis, and draws on "governing by numbers" among other theoretical debates. It is based on original data (qualitative interviews) and secondary sources (policy and statistics development documents). The sources represent both top down and bottom up perspectives; authorities, municipalities, expertise involved in the development and disability activists. Findings - The statistics development expresses three challenges in Norwegian health and care service policy: planning and governance, the growing complexity of the welfare state and changing welfare ideologies. Research limitations/implications - The study is limited to a Norwegian context and does not provide generalized conclusions about the sociohistorical context for developing statistics as technologies for governance purposes. Originality/value - Statistics and numbers for governance purposes are most often talked about as ready-made facts. This study explores a quantifying tool and its numbers in the making, with a methodologically approach that extends the governing by numbers tradition.