The Case For A Political Economy Of Accounting: A Critique Of The Arguments

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Woodward, D. ; Woodward, Therese (2000)
  • Publisher: Bournemouth University School of Finance and Law
  • Subject: ffe | ec

The paper is oriented towards concern with the way in which the concept of political economy has been ?adopted? by academic accountants. However, a number of issues relating to the underlying concept require first to be debated if the main topic is to be viewed in context.\ud Regarding accountants’ use of the political economy concept, one thread that certainly may be\ud identified is that which looks upon the subject as providing rationale for an approach\ud suggesting that developments in the accounting arena can only be fully appreciated if the\ud societal implications of such developments are properly understood. But there is another\ud interpretation, which conceives of political economy as providing an alternative explanation\ud of companies’ information disclosures to their stakeholders to that provided by an\ud organisational legitimacy stance. According to this view, corporate social reporting becomes a\ud far more proactive activity, with corporate executives pursuing their own self-interest and\ud through selective information disclosures attempting to set the agenda for debate.\ud The present paper indicates how both approaches fall short of demonstrating all the necessary\ud features of a ‘true’ political economy approach, and attempts to reconcile the radically\ud differing interpretations of political economy proffered, by suggesting they both stem largely\ud from the use of the expression “political economy of accounting” more or less as a ‘slogan’,\ud without much of an attempt having been made to justify its adoption.
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