Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : At national as well as at international level, it has become frequent to use indicators to set quantified goals and to monitor the evolution of public policies and bureaucracies. Social science research dealing with the development of performance measures is extensive and related to various intellectual traditions. Many consider this movement as a component of the neo-liberal turn and as an expression of the New Public Management. This symposium explores the tensions between the use of indicators and the exercise of power, underlining the ambivalence of this relationship, figures being both feared and desired. Three interdependent dimensions are differentiated to analyse the government by numbers: the challenges of knowledge, the logic of power and the types of publicisation that are linked to them. The four collected papers mainly deal with questions related to the monitoring of the results of public policies, discussed by authors belonging to various disciplines. They remind us that the definition of indicators plays a role in the manufacturing of political problems. They confirm how important it is to analyse in depth the way numbers are created and computed as well as the management and government devices in which they are embedded. Finally, they show that the government by indicators often triggers new forms of bureaucratisation.