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The moral mechanism of counter accounts: The case of industrial animal production

Eija Vinnari and Matias Laine

Accounting, Organizations and Society, 2017, vol. 57, issue C, 1-17

Abstract: Counter accounts are hoped to present a counterforce to hegemonic discourses and bring about emancipatory change in societies. While the political potential of counter accounts has, to an extent, been examined in prior accounting literature, there is a need to analyse the associated moral dimension. Our purpose in this paper is to advance theoretical understanding of the transformative potential of counter accounts by examining how they mediate the suffering of oppressed groups and how that mediation could lead to public action. Through a conceptual lens combining media studies and critical discourse analysis, we analyse counter accounts of animal production created by social movement activists in Finland. We find that, in general terms, the transformative potential of counter accounts is associated with their ability to act as a form of moral and political education, by repeatedly suggesting to their audiences how to feel about, and act publicly on, the suffering of an oppressed group. The moral engagement of the counter accounts’ audiences takes place through a combination of semiotic cues that simultaneously present the suffering as an objective fact, evoke sympathy towards the oppressed group and present practical options on how to act on the suffering. We also note that counter accounts can give rise to different ethical discourses and practical engagement options depending on the media and semiotic cues employed in their construction. This leaves room for discourses that acknowledge some of the concerns presented in the counter accounts but point towards actions that do not threaten the status quo.

Keywords: Animals; Counter accounts; Critical discourse analysis; Morality; Social movements; Visual media (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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