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31 January 2022
Social and Environmental Accountability Journal
Special Issue Editor(s)
University of Wollongong
Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University
Sandra van der Laan,
The University of Sydney
Accounting in Competing Worlds
In pluralistic societies, human interests and human needs exist in a contested space. Therefore value judgements, involving the tension between competing social and environmental objectives, are inevitable. The role of accounting as a calculative practice and valuation technology is often implicit in societal decision-making processes. In the competition of ideas and values in societies dominated by neoliberalism “accounting representations have political and economic consequences” (Gallhofer & Haslam, 1991, p. 487) and considering that there is an infinite number of human needs it follows that accounting will inevitably be “positively aligned with certain interests, and [accounting] always ought to be contestable in terms of the interests that it discounts and impedes” (Arrington & Puxty, 1991, p. 32). Thus, accounting and accountability are ubiquitous human constructs, complicit in human endeavour across a range of areas of interest to social and environmental accounting.
A number of recent accounting studies have explored the role of accounting as an evaluative technology and how it is used by protagonists’ to privilege or prejudice arguments about relative values. For three decades, Rob Gray has argued for an acknowledgement of multiple capitals, in an attempt to initially reflect, and ultimately resolve the inevitable tensions faced by accountants (Coulson, 2020). Sometimes these involve a combative stance to resolve the issue of competing values such as an arena (see Georgakopoulos & Thompson, 2008) or Rancière’s dissensus (see Brown & Tregidga, 2017) or a legislative and judicial route (see Moerman & van der Laan, 2015; Murphy & Moerman, 2018). Others have taken a more conciliatory approach such as dialogic engagement (see Brown & Dillard, 2015); institutional logics (see Grossi et al., 2020); and Boltanski and Thévenot’s (2006) sociology of worth framework (see, for example, Annisette & Richardson, 2011; Perkiss & Moerman, 2018; Russell, Milne, & Dey, 2017). These latter approaches acknowledge a multitude of value sets and sometimes an evaluative compromise for disputes to further an enabling form of accountability.
In addition, as social and environmental accounting academics, we are interested in the impact we have on the scholarship of teaching and learning (see Boyce et al., 2011; Botes, Lowe & Chapman, 2014). In particular, the possibility of a renewed curriculum in which accounting is recognised as a social process with accountability relationships that extend beyond the purely financial “to incorporate environmental, social, community, political, personal and ethical dimensions” (Boyce et al., 2015, p.1) and the tensions that exist with the instrumentality of professional practice and the profession’s narrow conception of ‘work ready’ (see Murphy & McGrath, 2018).
Papers in SEAJ strive to provide a forum for a wide range of different forms of academic and academic-related communications whose aim is to balance honesty and scholarly rigour with directness, clarity, policy-relevance and novelty. Therefore in this Special Issue we wish to invite authors to consider the concept of competing worlds by exploring the role of accounting and accountability in social and environmental contested spaces and encourage submissions from a wide range of theoretical, methodological and empirical approaches as long as they are in the spirit of the theme of competing worlds.
Therefore, topics may include, but are not limited to:
- How accounting or ‘accounts” are used to balance, adjudicate tensions between competing worlds
- The implications for the practice of accounting and accountability.
- The tensions and opportunities that arise in the field of social and environmental accounting in competing disciplinary approaches.
- The conflict between social and environmental considerations in accounting education including but not restricted to the approaches to teaching, impediments which encourage accounting to be viewed as only a calculative practice, enablers and education policy and practice that encourage debate of the role of accounting and accounting teaching.
- How current policy, and the process of development contributes to the conflict between social and environmental considerations and models to move to a process of policy formation to resolve this tension.
- The conflict between social and environmental considerations and the construction of the business case.
- Exploring strategies to resolve social and environmental tensions.
The closing date for submissions to this special issue is 31 January 2022.
Authors are encouraged to submit an initial draft or outline of a paper for comments from the guest editors. Any queries or enquiries about the special issue should be directed to Lee Moerman ([email protected]).
Authors are encouraged to contact the Guest Editors to discuss proposed contributions:
Lee Moerman, University of Wollongong ([email protected])
Dianne McGrath, Charles Sturt University ([email protected])
Daniel Murphy, Charles Sturt University ([email protected])
Sandra van der Laan, The University of Sydney ([email protected])
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All papers will be reviewed in accordance with the normal processes of Social and Environmental Accounting Journal. It is anticipated that this special issue will be published in 2023.
Authors should select the "Accounting in Competing Worlds" Special Issue when submiting their paper through the online submission system.
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