Objectification and Standardization

On the Limits and Effects of Ritually Fixing and Measuring Life

Edited by: Tord Larsen, Michael Blim, Theodore M. Porter, Kalpana Ram, Nigel Rapport

Tags: Anthropology, Ritual Studies Monograph Series

Table of Contents (PDF)

414 pp  $54.00

ISBN 978-1-5310-1895-5
eISBN 978-1-5310-1896-2

10% discount and free ground shipping within the United States for all orders over $50

Add to Cart

Modes of objectification—different ways of producing and quantifying entities through categories and classes—are part of the cultural infrastructure of any society and any epoch. But we are now in an era that displays a passion for objectification and quantification unparalleled since the beginning of statistics. This volume identifies the most prominent contemporary forms of objectification: in the arts, medicine, finance, identity management, the rhetoric of science as well as the everyday. Different chapters show how these modes of objectification, measurement, and standardization shape the main dimensions of social life: meaning and representation, morality, and notions of thinghood and personhood.

Moreover, quantification, measurement, and standardization are not simply ways of organizing pre-given entities. Rather, they are performative and generative technologies which create institutional objects, give rise to forms of objectivity and carry with them a range of normativities. Hence, the chapters also elaborate on the enduring link between forms of objectification and ritualism. At times, objectification is accomplished and fortified by ritualization. But ritual may also help disrupt the objectified, quantified world which meets resistance in the encounter with the actual fuzziness, flux, and capaciousness of reality. While the volume highlights the growing objectification and standardization of social life on the one hand, on the other it describes resistance to this trend.

This book is part of the Ritual Studies Monograph Series, edited by Pamela J. Stewart and Andrew Strathern, Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh.