States of Inquiry
Social Investigations and Print Culture in Nineteenth-Century Britain and the United States
In the mid-nineteenth century, American and British governments marched with great fanfare into the marketplace of knowledge and publishing. British royal commissions of inquiry, inspectorates, and parliamentary committees conducted famous social inquiries into child labor, poverty, housing, and factories. The American federal government studied Indian tribes, explored the West, and investigated the condition of the South during and after the Civil War.
Performing, printing, and then circulating these studies, government established an economy of exchange with its diverse constituencies. In this medium, which Frankel terms "print statism," not only tangible objects such as reports and books but knowledge itself changed hands. As participants, citizens assumed the standing of informants and readers.
Even as policy investigations and official reportage became a distinctive feature of the modern governing process, buttressing the claim of the state to represent its populace, government discovered an unintended consequence: it could exercise only limited control over the process of inquiry, the behavior of its emissaries as investigators or authors, and the fate of official reports once issued and widely circulated.
This study contributes to current debates over knowledge, print culture, and the growth of the state as well as the nature and history of the "public sphere." It interweaves innovative, theoretical discussions into meticulous, historical analysis.
About the Author
Oz Frankel is an assistant professor of historical studies at the New School for Social Research, New York City.
"Well researched book... A worthwhile contribution."
"An important and timely book that will interest a wide range of researchers."
"In the extraordinary detail and breadth of its research, States of Inquiry offers important arguments about the state's role in the transformation of the public sphere and print's role in the imagination of national communities. In its acute discussion of particular cases of social inquiry, it offers a sophisticated model of book-history research."
"Frankel's work is a significant contribution to the understanding of the evolution of two representative governments and their societies during the nineteenth century."
"The author has done a brave job of tackling an enormous, gray mass of governmental publication in the nineteenth century and giving us a great many local insights in the process."
"Ambitious book... adds much to our understanding of the development of social scientific 'fieldwork'... By combining a detailed history of publishing with a broader history of social investigation, Frankel offers us a fresh insight into the relationship between these different aspects of state building and the production of social knowledge."
"A strenuously empirical, theoretically informed study that reaches across a wide range of subjects, geographies, and politics to examine how official knowledge was created in the nineteenth century."
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