Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Dialogic Accounting: Online social movements & Accounting practices

Sendirella George’s research focuses on exploring how dialogic accounting might both learn from and contribute to the role of social movements in civil society and their interactions with corporations, as producers of “counter-accounts”, utilising online research methods.   

Accounting for the Other by the Other: Exploring Online Social Movement Counter-Accounting Practices

This study explores social movements (SMs) and the practice of “counter-accounting”.  Normative rationales for social and environmental accounting (SEA) – based around notions of fostering more accountable, responsible and transparent organisational practices – are well-established in the accounting literature.  However, critical accounting academics argue that corporate “self-governance” of SEA practice has led to a dominant “business case” interpretation which significantly delimits what is reported.  Current voluntarist corporate social and environmental reporting (CSER) is argued to be highly selective, and largely designed to cast corporations in a favourable light rather than seriously address social and environmental performance. In the absence of reliable “official” CSER, critical SEA academics have redirected their attention towards counter-accounting(s) prepared by SMs and other civil society participants as an alternative source of accountability information. Counter-accounts have also been recognised as a way of fostering dialogic accounting practices that recognise multiple users with divergent socio-political perspectives.  While SMs are viewed in the SEA literature as important players in promoting corporate accountability and fostering organisational and social change, few studies have examined how SMs themselves understand counter-accounting practices.  This study seeks to address this gap. Through a series of semi-structured interviews with SM representatives and involvement in a participatory learning and action research group, it aims to: (a) provide knowledge of SMs’ attitudes towards different forms of SEA and the role(s) SMs see SEA playing in their interactions with corporations;  (b) investigate the extent to which SMs engage in counter-accounting practices, and for what purposes; and (c) explore how  recent advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs) have facilitated the production of counter-accounts.  This study is interdisciplinary in approach and a further key aim is to show how ideas from both the SMs and cyber-democracy literatures could be used to develop SEA theory and practice, particularly in relation to exploring the role of SMs and counter-accounting(s) in dialogic accounting.

If you're interested in learning more about Sendirella's research, please contact  Sendirella.George@vuw.ac.nz

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