The Cultural Theory of (Accounting) History
Accounting & Business History Research Unit Annual Conference, Cardiff University, September 6-7, 2010
11 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2010
Date Written: July 3, 2010
In “Culture: the Anthropologist's Account” (1999) Adam Kuper advised avoidance of the use of the word ‘culture’ at all. It has come to denote too much and has now come to mean too little. However, just as “the history of all cultures is the history of cultural borrowing” (Edward Said, 1994), the same can be said of accounting history. It is not purported that the vestiges of accounting activities and practices we can study are independent of erratic but inevitable stimuli from other jurisdictions and colonial movements. Instead, many and multiple borrowings occur, in technology, professionalization, auditing and other core areas of accounting. At the same time accounting historians document shifts in beliefs and values in different eras of accounting activities. And with it may come a focus on such ‘webs of meanings’ (Geertz) to better understand the drivers to events. From this aspect, there is a method in historical studies: the Cultural turn of history’ which asks not: How it really was? But how was it for him or her or them?
This study examines the extent to which the ‘cultural turn of history’ or the Cultural Theory of History has been reflected in, and impacted on, accounting history scholarship, and then asks the question: have accounting historians adequately examined shared belief systems when we work on historical traces of accounting towards the ‘remaking of past worlds’? In order to answer this question, this study undertakes an analysis of accounting history scholarship, examining reflections of the Cultural theory of history in recent scholarship, by examining the papers offered at this conference in 2009. The study concludes with discussion, further research potential in this area, and limitations.
Keywords: Cultural turn of history, Cultural Theory of History, accounting history
JEL Classification: M40, B00, N8
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation