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Opportunity and Chance. The Introduction of Sampling Techniques in Portugal

Author(s): Nuno Madureira

Journal: E-Journal of Portuguese History
ISSN 1645-6432

Volume: 1;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2003;
Original page

Keywords: Scientific culture and political culture | history of statistics | government techniques | social meaning of index numbers | disembodiment of knowledge | opportunity sampling and random sampling

In the Republican State, the idea of social reform brought about new languages and new attitudes with respect to misery and poverty. Private situations became not only public problems but also social priorities. Sampling methods were adopted as a technique that allowed the transposition of particular situations to universal problems, abstracted from individuals and summarized in synthetic numbers. Sampling was a device for the acquisition of knowledge, with low information costs, but also for the conversion of knowledge into guidelines for government action. This paper examines the evolution of sampling techniques in Portugal considering four levels of analysis: the politics of government, the meaning acquired by statistical figures in the perception of society, the uses of numbers by social groups and class associations, and the innovations introduced by the development of mathematical statistics (Bowley, Fisher and Neyman) in applied science.
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