Informations and abstract
Keywords: statistics, accountability, cognitive conventions, quantification, feedback.
Economic and social statistics have historically been considered a fundamental tool for democratic debate, on the basis of the neutrality, objectivity and autonomy vis-à-vis governments, that are implied in the statisticians' professional ethics. Today, in the framework of the neo-liberal governmentality, new forms and uses of quantification are emerged. New normative tools such as assessment procedures, performance indicators and the benchmarking, appear to have a direct feedback on social actors. These effects are well known and analysed in the matters of both corporate and public accountability. This article develops a comparative sociology of statistical and accounting practices, and discusses the problems these feedback phenomena raise for the statisticians' ethos.