Steffen Mau

The Metric We - On the Quantification of the Social

(German title: Das metrische Wir)
ca. 300 pages
Steffen Mau
Foto: Steffen Mau
© Jürgen Bauer

Steffen Mau, born in 1968, is Professor for Macrosociology at the Humboldt University of Berlin.

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English world rights (Polity)

»Quantification is a megatrend, which is restructuring the social down to the smallest branches.«


Whether education, health or consumption: by now, data is gathered on almost every aspect of our personalities and behaviour. Step by step we are becoming a society of stars, scores, likes and lists in which everything and everyone is constantly measured and rated.

This begins with the yearly ranking of secondary schools, spans across the quantified-self movements of fitness-obsessed urbanites who compare their best times with one another over the Internet and extends to the rating of the efficiency of political measures. Steffen Mau examines the techniques of this new sociometry and highlights its consequences. The rating systems of the qualified society, so his central idea, not only illustrate the world’s inequalities, but are also crucial factors in the allocation of people’s life chances.


»Brimming with both theory and fact, Steffen Mau’s book presents the madness of data in a vivid way. His analytical strength lies in the fact that he can dissect the underlying shifts of power and clarify how the technologisation of control takes place.« Adrian Lobe, ZEIT ONLINE

»After reading one is not only smarter, but also warned.« Oliver Nachtwey, SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG

»Vividly and with love for detail, Mau describes the datafication of today’s world including its power to simplify systems and persons.« Volker Bernhard, DIE ZEIT

»Thrilling, with his finger on the pulse of time – rounded off with an extensive and diversified bibliography…« KULTURBUCHTIPS