Appearance of accounting in a political hegemony

Alawattage, C. and Wickramasinghe, D. (2008) Appearance of accounting in a political hegemony. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 19(3), pp. 293-339. (doi: 10.1016/

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This paper addresses an empirical issue: the non-constitutive role of accounting in a political hegemony. An 11-month fieldwork in Sri Lankan tea plantations shows how labour control is manifested in a complex historical and socio-political context which gave shape to a political hegemony infusing economic enterprise, civil society and the political state to blur the boundaries of organisation hierarchy. The managerial rationales of accounting have been subsumed by the rationales of a political hegemony and, in turn, the roles of accounting have been confined, on the one hand, to the reproduction and representation of everyday practices of ‘the nature of tea-making’ and their hegemonic control and, on the other hand, to information processing for financial control and external reporting. A theoretical framework, drawn on cultural-Marxist discourses on hegemony, explains the emergence and sustenance of political hegemony as the dominant mode of control in Third World enterprises. The framework illustrates that political hegemony constitutes structural and agential hegemonies, and that ensuing hegemonic governance and the mundane of labour controls interact with each other. Having linked the framework with the political history, post-colonial politics and everyday control practices, it illuminates the ways in which accounting appears in a political hegemony. In contrast to Western experience that accounting plays a constitutive role in labour control, we argue that the role accounting has assumed within political hegemonies of the Third World is rather representational and reproductive: it reproduces rather than constitutes the constitutive role of the political hegemony by representing it as a calculated ‘truth’ or a ‘nature’.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wickramasinghe, Professor Danture
Authors: Alawattage, C., and Wickramasinghe, D.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Accounting and Finance
Journal Name:Critical Perspectives on Accounting
Published Online:23 October 2006

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