Ethnostatistics studies the social organization and production of statistics, seeing them not as resources (towards an explanation of a particular social phenomenon), but as topics of investigation in their own right. In an early paper (‘A Note on Official Statistics’, Social Problems, 1962), argued that criminal statistics should not be taken as objective indicators of the crime-rate , but instead should be examined as displays of social organization-of the work of statistics-keeping agencies. Similarly, Jack Douglas in The Social Meanings of Suicide (1967) suggested the same treatment should be accorded Émile Durkheim's suicide statistics, by treating them as the problem to be explained rather than as an objective or true measure of the suicide rate. There is a clear connection between this tradition and the ethnomethodological critique of sociology as a ‘folk discipline’ which takes commonsense meanings for granted. Recently, the domain of ethnostatistical work has been considerably expanded: thus, in his book Ethnostatistics (1988), Robert Gephart defines the enterprise as ‘the study of the construction, interpretation, and the display of statistics in quantitative social research’.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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  • criminal statistics — Once held to reflect accurately the incidence of crime in society, first produced in France in 1827 and regularly for England and Wales since 1837, such statistics like all official statistics are now interpreted with caution. Criminal statistics …   Dictionary of sociology

  • ethnomethodology — A sociological approach which emerged out of the breakdown of the so called orthodox consensus in the mid 1960s. The label was coined by the American sociologist Harold Garfinkel, who laid the foundations of ethnomethodology as a theory, and as a …   Dictionary of sociology

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