Edited By Eduardo Cintra Torres and Samuel Mateus
III Multitude and Media Strategies
Jérôme Bourdon & Cécile Méadel Release the Numbers! Multitudes, Crowds, Publics… and Audiences Introduction This chapter addresses a key question of modern democratic politics: that of representation through numbers� Numbers make social collectives visible in a highly effective, abstract, economical way, and contribute to give them legiti- macy� This is linked to the centrality of elections in modern democratic regimes (so much so that non-democratic regimes almost all ape democratic elections)� But, more recently, it has been part of a rise of a Western, and increasingly global culture of ranking and competition through numbering, much beyond politics� Indeed, the prevalence of numbers in modern life has been noted, much be- yond the realm of collectives – crowds, multitudes, publics – which we discuss here: “The modern world sometimes describes itself in seemingly magical num- bers that hang in mid-air, unconnected either to a grammar or a grounding” (Guyer quoted in Day et al., 2014, p� 123)� However, there are many ways of apprehending, presenting, ordering and arranging numbers: “Numbering prac- tices – making parts and wholes, adding and subtracting, zooming in and out, multiplying and dividing, stopping and pausing, diffracting, making and mark- ing continuity and discontinuity – saturate the social world even when numbers themselves are not visible” (Day et al., 2014, p� 150)� This makes the understand- ing of both the production of numbers, and our relation to numbers as produc- ers of social entities (as producing ourselves), particularly urgent� Before trying to understand the way numbers relate to...
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