批判性思考: Democracy, Numeracy, and Governmentality

271389045_4707270392696396_4234748042651793583_n我們是被數字掌控了嗎? 民主(democracy)、統計(numeracy)與治理思維(governmentality)究竟有怎樣的關聯。




📌 Quote 引文

Democratic mentalities of government prioritize and seek to produce a relationship between numerate citizens, numericized civic discourse, and numerical evaluations of government (Rose, 1991, p. 691).



📌 Response 回應

The word democracy conjures up notions of freedom, justice, and equal rights. Rose (1991) punctures these moral conceptions by claiming that democracy is also subversive in its mechanism to exercise and justify power through numeracy (p. 691). Through this lens, the operation of democracies relies on its numeric encapsulations of political power, public sentiments, social issues, and its ongoing administrative accounting. The numerization of such values is integral to practices, technologies, and mentalities that legitimize democratic government rule (Rose, 1991, pp. 673-675).

民主一詞召喚出了自由、正義與平權的理念。透過宣稱民主機制本身具有破壞性——以數字(numbers)與算術能力來行使且正當化權力(p.691——Rose1991)戳破了這些道德理念。以此觀之,民主的運作仰賴其以數值化的方式概括政治權力、大眾觀感與社會議題,及其所持續進行的行政計算(administrative accounting)。這些價值觀的數值化(numerization)是慣例、技術與心態(mentalities)不可或缺的一部分,這使民主政府的統治具有正當性(Rose1991pp. 673-675

Such governance could be reconceptualized as governmentality, a process in which neoliberal subjects become self-governing. Under this political framework, citizens are transformed into self-investing and self-maximizing individuals who seek to actively participate and thereby support a numeracy-dominated labor market, economy, and governance (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010, p. 128).

這種統治方式可被視為政府的「治理思維」,一個新自由主義主體(neoliberal subjects)逐漸自治(self-governing)的過程。此一政治框架下的公民,成為自我投資(self-investing)的個體,極力地將自我最大化。公民不再質疑政府的決定,反而積極地尋求參與,從而支持以統計所主導的勞動市場、經濟與治理(RizviLingard2010p.128)。

The interrelationship between numeracy and democracy is constitutive in that the government is seemingly held accountable for the exercise of power. Construed economic data–inflation, unemployment, and GDP growth–for example, serve to reassure the public that political acts make quantifiable progress, which adds to their accountability and legitimacy (Rose, 1991, p. 690). Numeracy and the specialist knowledge that comes from interpreting it also provide a facade of objectivity and fairness in a democratic society where a plurality of diverse and often divergent interests conflict (Rose, 1991, p. 678).

算術能力與民主之間的交互關係,形成了政府需對權力行使(the exercise of power)負責的表象。例如,解釋經濟數據——通貨膨脹、失業與GDP成長——有助於讓大眾放心,政治行為取得了可量化的進展,這增加了它們的可究責性與正當性(Rose1991p.690)。在一個多元化且時常有著各種利益衝突的民主社會裡,算術能力以及為詮釋算術所產生的專業知識,也提供了一個客觀與公平的假象(Rose1991p.678)。

It would appear from such rationale that numeracy is integral to the democratic process, justifying and reinforcing its legitimacy. However, this begs the question of whether the two can exist independently. Is the democratic process merely the mask that numeracy wears, or is the latter a detachable byproduct or mechanism of the former? Another point of reflection is whether this interrelationship is exclusive to democratic institutions. Autocratic regimes, for instance, have long used numeracy to legitimize their reign, albeit in different contexts. Dictators also use performance indicators to maintain their grip on power. Figures of poverty, crime, and worse deaths, are often used by these power-holders to oust political rivals and enforce draconian measures. Numeracy, in this light, could be reconceptualized as a mechanism of power, rather than tied to a specific political framework, that any power-holders use to consolidate and enact power. It could also be viewed as a corrosive force that gradually leaves only the husk of any moral conceptions of governance.

就上述論證而言,算術能力是民主進程不可或缺的一部分,捍衛且強化了其正當性。但問題在於,此二者能否獨立存在?民主僅是算術能力的假面,抑或算術能力是可與民主分離的附屬品或機制?另一個反思的點是,這種相互關係是否為民主制度(democratic institutions)所獨有?例如,即便方式各異,獨裁政權(autocratic regimes)以算術來正當化其統治(reign)業已行之有年。獨裁者也運用績效指標(performance indicators)來確保自身所掌控的權力。這些權力持有者經常利用貧窮率、犯罪率以及更為嚴重的死亡率來打擊政敵,並實施嚴厲的措施。有鑒於此,算術能力可被重新視為一種權力機制(mechanism of power),而非僅與權力持有者用以鞏固和遂行權力的某一特定政治架構掛鈎。其亦可被視為一股具有腐蝕性的力量,使德治的概念漸漸地僅有外殼殘存。

In an educational context, it might be worthwhile to explore the intersections of power, forms of government, and numeracy and make such relationships public. Such knowledge and exploration could build resistance to coercion from numeracy-based political acts. Only an aware citizenry can know how they are being subtly manipulated and find ways to resist that manipulation. In her 1964 essay “Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship,” the highly influential political theorist, Hannah Arendt, expounded on the importance of citizens being skeptics rather than “cogs and wheels that keep the administration running” (Arendt, 2003, p. 29). Even today, her words ring true.

在教育的脈絡底下,探索權力、政府形式與算術能力的交集,並將此一關係公諸於世,或許是值得的。這樣的知識與探索得以抵抗政治行為——以算術能力為基礎——的壓迫。極具影響力的政治理論家漢娜鄂蘭,在她1964年撰寫的文章〈獨裁統治下的個人責任〉(Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship)中,闡述了公民作為懷疑論者(skeptics)的重要性,而非淪為「維持政府運轉的齒輪」(Arendt2003p.29)。時至今日,她的話依然擲地有聲。

📌 Questions 問題:

1. What are some alternate forms of government that can exist without numeracy? What are the costs in their possible creation and implementation?


2. What are the benefits of governance through numeracy? Can it become a constructive and progressive process?



Arendt, H. (2003). “Personal responsibility under dictatorship.” Responsibility and judgment,

45,  pp. 17-48.

Rizvi, F. and Lingard, B. (2010). From government to governance. In Globalizing Education

Policy (pp. 116-139). New York, NY: Routledge. http://resolve.library.ubc.ca/cgi-bin/catsearch?bid=8395130

Rose, N. (1991). Governing by numbers: Figuring out democracy. Accounting, Organizations

and Society, 16, (7), 673-692. Retrieved from: https://www.casrilanka.com/casl/images/stories/PDBF/ governing%20by%20numbers.pdf


圖片出處: “Numbers are everywhere” by Sarah Yu via Studybreak.com