Some reflections on the construct of emancipatory accounting: shifting meaning and the possibilities of a new pragmatism

Gallhofer, S. and Haslam, J. (2019) Some reflections on the construct of emancipatory accounting: shifting meaning and the possibilities of a new pragmatism. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 63, 101975. (doi: 10.1016/

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The paper traces and assesses key developments and shifts in meaning in the (contested) construct and signifier of emancipatory accounting in the accounting literature over the last four decades. We articulate how an explicit mobilization initially restricted emancipatory accounting to an envisaged role in a Marx-inspired understanding of radically grand or revolutionary transformation. We indicate how this came to delimit the construct notably in a branch of social accounting where it was translated into a harshly monochromatic variant. We then elaborate how influential subsequent interpretations of ‘emancipatory accounting’ have tended to broaden from this narrower position. We come to focus on how the construct has been interpreted in an influential discourse through what we term a post-Marxist new pragmatist perspective—which is critical in remaining committed to radical progress but also reflexively aligned to a pragmatic approach. This reflexive orientation suggests the potentially greater centrality and more general applicability of the emancipatory accounting construct and its value for analysing accounting and praxis generally. We consider the potential increased usage of a critical new pragmatist emancipatory accounting. We thus articulate and promote possibilities for emancipatory accounting(s), pointing to an array of emancipatory projects with their accounting interface.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gallhofer, Prof Sonja
Authors: Gallhofer, S., and Haslam, J.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Accounting and Finance
Journal Name:Critical Perspectives on Accounting
ISSN (Online):1095-9955
Published Online:16 February 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Elsevier
First Published:First published in Critical Perspectives on Accounting 63:101975
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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