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Tarde's idea of quantification

Bruno Latour

Even though Tarde is said to have had a literary view of social science, he himself was deeply involved in statistics (especially criminal statistics) and took an essentially quantitative view of social phenomena. What is so paradoxical in his view of quantification is that it relies not only on the aggregates but also on the individual element. The paper reviews this paradox, the reason why Tarde was son intent on finding a quantitative grasp for establishing the social sciences and relates the type of data Tarde envisioned with the peculiar new types of information available today in digital formats, datascapes that might vindicate many insights that seemed so odd at the time of Tarde.