Authored by: Sonja Gallhofer , Jim Haslam

The Routledge Companion to Accounting History

Print publication date:  July  2008
Online publication date:  May  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415410946
eBook ISBN: 9780203871928
Adobe ISBN: 9781135230883


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The aim of this chapter is to elaborate, illustrate and promote accounting history consistent with critical theory refined by engagement with postmodern interventions. Reflexively, the approach sees the world as problematic. A better world, however, may be envisaged with a notion of how to realise it. History helps problematise the present and bring insights from the past. Rather than reduce to an unproblematic account of change as if narrative-free and transparently real, history may be aligned with emancipation. The focus here is on accounting in modern Britain, specifically the ‘long nineteenth century’. The chapter concentrates on writings on accounting by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) and accounting’s mobilisation by socialist agitators in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Reflecting the concerns of the critical theoretical approach, the chapter begins by questioning the meaning of emancipation today and then explores, via its focuses, what is at stake in relating accounting, history and emancipation.

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