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The Indexification of Poverty: The Covert Politics of Small‐Area Indices

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Published version
Peer-reviewed

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Abstract

jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pIn recent decades statistical indices have become a dominant method for measuring many features of the social world. While the resulting enumerations are regularly cited by critical human geographers, the wider political stakes of indexing the world remain unaddressed. In this article, we theorise jats:italicindexification</jats:italic> as the process through which composite statistics transform theoretical constructs into epistemic objects, and then geographically bounded rankings. Rather than a neutral process, we argue that these epistemological manoeuvres can mask various forms of violence. Through a detailed analysis of the UK's Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD), we highlight the clandestine politics of indexification and their tendency to conceal harms meted out by the state. Seeking a more critical reckoning with indices, we conclude by calling for and outlining a project of jats:italicradical indexification</jats:italic>—a participatory, democratic, and transparent endeavour that takes spatial justice as its organising principle.</jats:p>

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Keywords

4408 Political Science, 44 Human Society, 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

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Antipode

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

0066-4812
1467-8330

Volume Title

Publisher

Wiley
Sponsorship
Economic and Social Research Council (1226049, ES/J500033/1)