The Quiet Revolution: Reply to comments

Shore, Cris and Wright, Susan. 2015. The Quiet Revolution: Reply to comments. Current Anthropology, 56(3), pp. 439-441. ISSN 0011-3204 [Article]

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We welcome these thoughtful and constructive comments and are particularly pleased to engage in conversation with people from such a wide range of disciplines, including sociology, accounting, information and media studies, and political science, as well as anthropology. We identify three main points arising from their comments. The first concerns a series of questions about the nature, spread, and societal implications of audit culture. Why has audit continued to advance despite its widely documented failures? How do the logics and practices of audit spread, and why do people continue to adopt and promote them? And what can be done to challenge and resist its seemingly unstoppable expansion? The second main point addresses questions of theory and how we should conceptualize or analyze audit culture. The third point concerns issues of methodology and perspective and can be summed up in the question, what does anthropology bring to the study of audit?

On a more reflexive note, we acknowledge that representing audit culture as a force with expansionary dynamics runs the risk of reifying an otherwise complex set of political and social tendencies. That is contrary to our intention, and Sally Merry captures our aim superbly when she states that “the challenge is to see audit as both a set of techniques and practices … and as a mode of thinking and analysis that makes particular political actions seem reasonable and justified.” To do that, we need to identify and name audit as a social and cultural phenomenon. This is the first step toward understanding how audit rationalities and techniques exert power by normalizing and naturalizing particular dispositions and ways of governing and being. As most of the commentators suggest, audit culture is becoming increasingly prevalent and intrusive in people’s lives, and it merits serious anthropological investigation.

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6 May 2015Published

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15 Feb 2019 12:41

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15 Feb 2019 12:41


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