Accounting as differentiated universal for emancipatory praxis: Accounting delineation and mobilisation for emancipation(s) recognising democracy and difference

Sonja Gallhofer*, Jim Haslam, Akira Yonekura

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    96 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to add to efforts to treat the relationship between accounting, democracy and emancipation more seriously, giving recognition to difference in this context. To open up space for emancipatory praxis vis-à-vis accounting, the authors articulate a delineation of accounting as a differentiated universal and emphasise the significance of an appreciation of accounting as contextually situated. The authors outline implications of a reading of new pragmatism for emancipatory praxis in relation to accounting that takes democracy and difference seriously. Design/methodology/approach – Critical and analytical argument reflecting upon previous literature in the humanities and social sciences (e.g. Laclau and Mouffe, 2001) and in accounting (e.g. Gallhofer and Haslam, 2003; Bebbington et al., 2007; Brown, 2009, 2010; Blackburn et al., 2014; Brown and Dillard, 2013a, b; Dillard and Yuthas, 2013) to consider further accounting’s alignment to an emancipatory praxis taking democracy and difference seriously. Findings – A vision and framing of emancipatory praxis vis-à-vis accounting is put forward as a contribution that the authors hope stimulates further discussion. Originality/value – The authors extend and bolster previous literature seeking to align accounting and emancipation through further reflection upon new pragmatist perspectives on democracy and difference. In the articulations and emphases here, the authors make some particular contributions including notably the following. The accounting delineation, which includes appreciation of accounting as a differentiated universal, and a considered approach to appreciation of accounting as contextually situated help to open up further space for praxis vis-à-vis accounting. The authors offer a general outline of accounting’s positioning vis-à-vis a reading of a new pragmatist perspective on emancipatory praxis. The authors articulate the perspective in terms of key principles of design for emancipatory praxis vis-à-vis accounting: take seriously an accounting delineation freeing accounting from unnecessary constraints; engage with all accountings in accord with a principle of prioritisation; engage with accounting in a way appreciative of its properties, dimensions and contextual situatedness; engage more generally in a new pragmatist praxis. This adds support to and extends prior literature. The authors elaborate in this context how appreciationof a new pragmatist continuum thinking that helps to highlight and bring out emancipatory and repressive dimensions of accounting can properly inform interaction with existing as well as new envisaged accountings, including what the authors term here “official” accountings.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)846-874
    Number of pages29
    JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • Accounting delineation
    • Democracy
    • Difference
    • Emancipatory accountings
    • New pragmatism

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
    • Accounting


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