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Making It CountStatistics and Statecraft in the Early People’s Republic of China$
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Arunabh Ghosh

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691179476

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691179476.001.0001

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A New Type of Standardized Statistical Work

A New Type of Standardized Statistical Work

(p.25) 2 A New Type of Standardized Statistical Work
Making It Count

Arunabh Ghosh

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores early statistical work in the People's Republic of China's (PRC) Northeast, arguing that this work and the practical experience so gained was the foundation upon which the rest of the country's statistical apparatus was based. Unpacking the constituent elements of Wang Sihua's “new type of standardized statistical work” permits an articulation of the ways in which this new type of statistics was regarded as more standardized, correct, and scientific than what preceded it in the years before 1949. The chapter shows that the 1950s were shot through with the influence, rarely pedagogical or technical in nature but rather all-pervasive and methodological, of what by 1959 would come to be termed the Maoist model of ascertaining fact. This Maoist model, with its emphases on direct experience over technical knowledge and on ideological fervor as a source of expertise, rendered the earlier binary and the clean solutions it offered much more conflicted. As a result, statisticians and statistical workers throughout the 1950s found themselves not only transitioning from a “nonsocialist” to a “socialist” system of data collection and analysis but also operating in a milieu that particularly valued personal, individual, practical experience.

Keywords:   standardized statistical work, 1950s, Maoist model, direct experience, ideological fervor, data collection, data analysis, practical experience

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