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Mennicken, A., & Vollmer, H. (Eds.). (2007). Zahlenwerk: Kalkulation, Organisation und Gesellschaft
[Number-Work: Calculation, Organisation and Society]. Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag für
Accounting systems have come to play a key role in the organisation of modern economies and
societies. Both private and public sector activities are structured around cost-benefit analyses,
performance measurement systems, risk calculations and many other forms of numerical
representation and economic measurement. Yet, despite the growing presence and influence of
numbers and instruments of calculation in our day-to-day lives, particularly in German-speaking
countries, not much systematic research has been carried out studying their effects on social and
economic life. With a range of different contributions from sociology, political science, accounting,
cultural studies and history, this book documents a now slowly re-awaking interest of German social
scientists in the study of numbers and “number-work”. Building on Anglo-Saxon studies of accounting
as social and institutional practice, this is the first major German collection of social and institutional
analyses of calculation and calculative instruments. The book shows that the power of numbers
reaches far beyond mere representations and symbolisations of value estimates. Numbers and
calculations are substantially enmeshed in the reproduction, stabilisation and change, of social order.
Drawing on original empirical materials, the chapters in this book are devoted to enhancing our
understanding of the social character of numbers and calculative practices – their conditions and
consequences, possibilities and limitations – in various public and private settings. The studies
gathered together range from analyses of the emergence of state accounting in 19 Century Prussia,
Sombart and Weber’s works on accounting, to empirical studies of Basel II, Germany’s adoption of
international accounting and auditing standards, the rise of operational risk management, the roles of
sport statistics and accounting in development projects. This book is addressed to sociologists,
political scientists, organisational theorists and other scholars with an interest in the social study of
calculative practices across multiple domains.