This panel aims to reflect on a domain of activity profoundly underrepresented in discussions of the "performativity of economics", namely the public sector. It seeks to unpack how does measurement-for-coordination differ from measurement-for-exchange, and what can be made of 'policy devices'?
While anthropological, sociological, and STS studies of market mechanisms have built a nuanced understanding of the practices of value production, measurement, and calculation, the "performativity of the market" programme remains controversial in other areas of the social sciences. Specifically, anthropologists have claimed that focusing on the formal institutions of capitalism has led to the emergence of a market-centric theory of value. We read this critical position as an opportunity to expand the scope of research and to understand how processes of value production and valuation take place in areas of social life not dominated by forms of exchange. Thus, we ask authors to reflect on a domain of activity which is profoundly underrepresented in discussions of the "performativity of economics", namely the state and the public sector.
Problematizing how measurement and calculation perform "policy-attachment' is equally important as examining the becoming of a measurement device in the context of, for example, consumer goods. This is evident when considering how little has been done to differentiate these tools from regimes of measurement that are found their profit-oriented areas of strategic exchange such as markets. Furthermore, forming a better understanding of measurement and valuing practices in the public sector is particularly important in the context of the recent emergence of 'Post-New Public Management' which puts a high premium on coordination mechanisms, network-working, and non-market forms of management and control. To address these developments, this panel wishes to ask: now that we understand 'market devices' what can we make of 'policy devices'?