In this article I explore the forms of power that quantification enacts in post-dictatorship Chile. My results are based on research conducted in 1990-92 in a poblacion in the southern zone of Santiago, just after Chile's transition from military to elected-civilian rule. At that time, polls and surveys were being administered to judge residents' electoral choices, political attitudes, and consumer preferences. The widespread use of polling—including in poor urban neighborhoods—reflected a merging of marketing, politics, and social science unique, in Chile, to the period surrounding and following the transition to democracy. Additionally, I examine power exercised primarily through polls and secondarily through market surveys, and the mechanisms through which social movements—including community organizations such as the health group Llareta—have both resisted and appropriated statistical knowledge. The article shows how polling and the construction of public opinion through quantification play a key governance role in a democracy in which citizens have little influence over major public decisions, and correspondingly, how social movements contest the subject effects of quantification by making themselves the authors, not just objects, of statistical knowledge.
LINKS FROM THE ESSAY, "Making Democracy Count: Opinion Polls and Market Surveys in the Chilean Political Transition"
Education Popular en Salud
Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales
Lessons in the Basque Language
Center for Basque Studies - University of Nevada
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