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Sorting Things Out Classification and Its Consequences

by Geoffrey C. Bowker

  • ISBN: 9780262024617
  • ISBN10: 0262024616

Sorting Things Out Classification and Its Consequences

by Geoffrey C. Bowker

  • List Price: $63.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Mit Pr
  • Publish date: 09/01/1999
  • ISBN: 9780262024617
  • ISBN10: 0262024616
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Description: What do a seventeenth-century mortality table (whose causes of death include "fainted in a bath", "frighted", and "itch"); the identification of South Africans during apartheid as European, Asian, colored, or black; and the separation of machine- from hand-washables have in common? All are examples of classification -- the scaffolding of information infrastructures.

In Sorting Things Out, Geoffrey Bowker and Susan Leigh Star explore the role of categories and standards in shaping the modern world. In a clear and lively style, they investigate a variety of classification systems, including the International Classification of Diseases, the Nursing Interventions Classification, race classification under apartheid in South Africa, and the classification of viruses and of tuberculosis. Sorting Things Out has a moral agenda, for each standard and category valorizes some point of view and silences another. Standards and classifications produce advantage or suffering. Jobs are made and lost; some regions benefit at the expense of others. How these choices are made and how we think about that process are at the moral and political core of this work. The book is an important empirical source for understanding the building of information infrastructures.

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