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Why Is There No Decimal Metric System in the United States?

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Abstract:

The decimal metric system of weights and measures was invented as part of the changes introduced by the French revolution in the 1790s. Today only three countries in the world have not officially adopted it: the United States, Liberia and Myanmar. Despite numerous attempts — from Thomas Jefferson’s era to Jimmy Carter’s presidency — pro-metric groups (formed mainly by scientists, big industrialists and statesmen) have failed to make the metric system the only legal system in the country. This paper attempts to provide sociological insights on this failure and the subsequent metrological isolation of America in the globe. Three factors are suggested to elucidate this phenomenon: the relative lack of political centralization in America, the strong isolationist “sentiment” in American culture, and the ability of the American economy to impose its technical conditions to international trade.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

metric (141), system (108), measur (99), state (60), unit (56), countri (34), weight (32), intern (29), american (29), new (27), nation (26), use (26), world (22), jefferson (21), standard (20), one (19), centuri (18), chang (18), meter (18), america (17), adopt (17),

Author's Keywords:

Decimal metric system, exceptionalism, isolationism, political centralization, standardization, international coordination.
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Name: American Sociological Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.asanet.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p242117_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Vera, Hector. "Why Is There No Decimal Metric System in the United States?" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Sheraton Boston and the Boston Marriott Copley Place, Boston, MA, Jul 31, 2008 <Not Available>. 2014-12-01 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p242117_index.html>

APA Citation:

Vera, H. , 2008-07-31 "Why Is There No Decimal Metric System in the United States?" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Sheraton Boston and the Boston Marriott Copley Place, Boston, MA Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2014-12-01 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p242117_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: The decimal metric system of weights and measures was invented as part of the changes introduced by the French revolution in the 1790s. Today only three countries in the world have not officially adopted it: the United States, Liberia and Myanmar. Despite numerous attempts — from Thomas Jefferson’s era to Jimmy Carter’s presidency — pro-metric groups (formed mainly by scientists, big industrialists and statesmen) have failed to make the metric system the only legal system in the country. This paper attempts to provide sociological insights on this failure and the subsequent metrological isolation of America in the globe. Three factors are suggested to elucidate this phenomenon: the relative lack of political centralization in America, the strong isolationist “sentiment” in American culture, and the ability of the American economy to impose its technical conditions to international trade.


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