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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

The Social Life of Standards

Ethnographic Methods for Local Engagement

A look at how various tools for organizing society are developed and contested by the people in communities they would affect.

The Social Life of Standards reveals how political and technical tools for organizing society are developed, subverted, contested, and reassembled by local communities interacting with standards created by others. The authors investigate biomedical, agricultural, and other cases to show how inconsistent implementation of standards in the real world runs up against the non-negotiable criteria presupposed by external forces. To solve these problems, they propose a new, reflexive process that involves local engagement at every stage in the production and application of standards.

256 pages | 2 halftones, 2 maps, 5 figures | 6 x 9

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology


There is no comparable work to The Social Life of Standards, a breakthrough book which successfully—even brilliantly—articulates an approach to the study of standards that is sensitive to local contexts and alert to the politics of knowledge in the making.

Victor Braitberg, University of Arizona

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