Accounting as a Technology of Government in the Portuguese Empire: The Development, Application and Enforcement of Accounting Rules During the Pombaline Era (1761-1777)

59 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2013

See all articles by Delfina Gomes

Delfina Gomes

University of Minho - School of Economics and Management

Garry D. Carnegie

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technolog (RMIT University)

Lúcia Maria Portela de Lima Rodrigues

University of Minho - School of Economics and Management

Date Written: February 28, 2013

Abstract

This study of the interrelations of accounting and the State portrays accounting as a technology of government to effectively enact “practical action” (Snook, 2000: 186) at a distance in the Portuguese Empire. The study examines the development, application and enforcement of accounting rules under Portuguese imperialism in the “Pombaline Era” during the period 1761 to 1777. These rules, comprising the “1761 Law” and the later applicable accounting “Instructions,” were issued by the Royal Treasury, established in 1761, for application throughout the Portuguese Empire. Using the combination of Foucault’s concept of governmentality and Snook’s theory of “practical drift”, the study elucidates how the implementation and evaluation of accounting control systems permitted the Portuguese Government to exercise control at a distance, thereby mobilizing individuals to pursue its goals for the Empire. The measures taken to enforce conformity with the accounting rules are shown to have been targeted at deterring the phenomenon of practical drift and, therefore, were concerned with avoiding malfunctioning and potential chaos in colonial administration.

Keywords: Accounting rules, Central government, Portuguese Empire, Colonies, Technologies of government, Practical drift

JEL Classification: Accounting, Economic History

Suggested Citation

Gomes, Delfina and Carnegie, Garry D. and Portela de Lima Rodrigues, Lúcia Maria, Accounting as a Technology of Government in the Portuguese Empire: The Development, Application and Enforcement of Accounting Rules During the Pombaline Era (1761-1777) (February 28, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2227297 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2227297

Delfina Gomes (Contact Author)

University of Minho - School of Economics and Management ( email )

Gualtar
Braga, 4710
Portugal

Garry D. Carnegie

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technolog (RMIT University) ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

Lúcia Maria Portela de Lima Rodrigues

University of Minho - School of Economics and Management ( email )

Campus Gualtar
Braga, 4710-057
Portugal

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