Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences

Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences

by Geoffrey C. Bowker, Susan Leigh Star, Susan Leigh Star
     
 

ISBN-10: 0262522950

ISBN-13: 9780262522953

Pub. Date: 08/28/2000

Publisher: MIT Press

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

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Overview

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 C. 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.

The authors emphasize the role of invisibility in the process by which classification orders human interaction. They examine how categories are made and kept invisible, and how people can change this invisibility when necessary. They also explore systems of classification as part of the built information environment. Much as an urban historian would review highway permits and zoning decisions to tell a city's story,the authors review archives of classification design to understand how decisions have been made. 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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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262522953
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
08/28/2000
Series:
Inside Technology
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
389
Sales rank:
1,329,025
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.85(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: To Classify Is Human1
1Some Tricks of the Trade in Analyzing Classification33
2The Kindness of Strangers: Kinds and Politics in Classification Systems53
3The ICD as Information Infrastructure107
4Classification, Coding, and Coordination135
5Of Tuberculosis and Trajectories165
6The Case of Race Classification and Reclassification under Apartheid195
7What a Difference a Name Makes - the Classification of Nursing Work229
8Organisational Forgetting, Nursing Knowledge, and Classification255
9Categorical Work and Boundary Infrastructures: Enriching Theories of Classification285
10Why Classifications Matter319
Notes327
References335
Name Index367
Subject Index373

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