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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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Ascertaining Social Fact

Ascertaining Social Fact

(p.55) 3 Ascertaining Social Fact
Making It Count

Arunabh Ghosh

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the theoretical and ideological justification of socialist statistical work. It also provides an assessment of Soviet technical aid and introduces the Soviet statistical experts who were instrumental in helping organize statistical activity in the People's Republic of China (PRC). The chapter first uncovers and understands the socialist critique of statistics and, second, analyzes the role of the Soviet statistical experts who spent time in China and who were instrumental in the rise of socialist statistics to a position of epistemological and administrative dominance. It provides a discussion of the 1950s (or, more accurately, the years after 1945) as a period when the imperative to ascertain social fact took on added urgency throughout the world. There existed, however, competing approaches to ascertaining social fact. The chapter thus moves on to the rise of socialist statistics, in particular its rise in the Soviet Union (USSR), and contrasts it with other approaches to statistics. It then explores the Soviet experts who spent extended periods of time in the PRC, examining the variety of ways—teaching, translation of textbooks, and consultation—by which their expertise was mobilized by the Chinese as it sought to disseminate a correct understanding and implementation of socialist statistics.

Keywords:   Russia, Soviet Union, USSR, Soviet statistical experts, socialist statistics, Soviet technical aid, social fact

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