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Agonizing over engagement: SEA and the “death of environmentalism” debates

Judy Brown and Jesse Dillard

CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, 2013, vol. 24, issue 1, 1-18

Abstract: Social and environmental accounting (SEA) is currently going through a period of critical self-analysis. Fundamental questions are being raised about how SEA should be defined, who should be doing the defining, and if, how and whom it should engage. We attempt to enrich these debates by drawing on the political philosophy of agonistic pluralism and a set of debates about engagement within the environmental movement – “the death of environmentalism” debates. We set forth the “Death” debates and, in doing so, contextualize and theorize the contested nature of SEA engagement using agonistic pluralism. In contrast to consensually oriented approaches to SEA, the desired outcome is not necessarily resolution of ideological differences but to imagine, develop, and support democratic processes wherein these differences can be recognized and engaged. We construe the “Death” debates as illustrative of the contestable practical and political issues facing both SEA and progressive social movements generally, demonstrating the range of deliberations necessary in contemplating effective engagement programs. The SEA community, and civil society groups, can benefit from the more overtly political perspective provided by agonistic pluralism. By surfacing and engaging with various antagonisms in this wider civic sphere, SEA can more effectively respond to, and move beyond, traditional politically conservative, managerialist discourses.

Keywords: Critical; Environmental; Ethics; Public interest; Social; Praxis; Agnostic pluralism; Critique; Environnemental; Éthique; Intérêt public; Social; Praxis, Pratique; 批判性; 环境的; 道德伦理; 公共利益; 社会的; 实践; Crítica; Ambiental; Ética; Interés Público; Social; Praxis (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2013
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