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Global Policy Fields: Conflicts and Settlements in the Emergence of Organized International Attention to Official Statistics, 1853-1947 (WP-02-45)

Marc J. Ventresca

I use the questions of how fields of activity emerge and what mechanisms rationalize and order them to investigate the rise of organized international and expert attention to official statistics and the modern national census of population. Field theories, on one hand, provide useful ways to understand the diverse actors and activity that goes into the key processes of field structuration. The historical development of the global field of statistics, on the other, provides a set of challenges to the organization theory view of field arguments. This empirical case argues for attention to conflicts, struggles, and provisional settlements over historical time that shift the level and kind of international attention to official statistics. My results reinforce the importance of incorporating activity into institutional theories of organization, but caution against neglecting the embeddedness of that activity.
Marc J. Ventresca, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

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