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Suffer little children: Power, boundaries and the epistemology of ignorance in accounting for Church and State

Frances Miley and Andrew Read

CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, 2021, vol. 80, issue C

Abstract: This research contributes to post-structural theorisation of the accounting-power nexus. It explores how social boundaries shape collective identities, and how these identities determine the accounting responses of social groups. This research includes a case study using interview and archival research methods. Hayward's (2000) concept of de-facing power is adopted to demonstrate how the development of historically contingent social boundaries shaped the collective identities of Church and State in the area of education funding and contributed to their lack of accounting records. When a political crisis over the lack of State funding of Catholic education occurred in the early 1960s, neither Church nor State could access the accounting information required to mediate the crisis because they had both selectively chosen to maintain accounting records consistent with their constructed identities even though this meant that their accounting records were not suited to all their needs. This research extends the post-structuralism project in accounting research to the notion of an epistemology of ignorance, which is the intentional choice by a social group to remain ignorant. It explores how boundaries can constrain choices and actions, promoting an epistemology of ignorance that can lead to the maintenance of inadequate accounting records.

Keywords: Boundaries; Defacing power; Epistemology of ignorance; Education funding; Post-structural accounting; Power (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:crpeac:v:80:y:2021:i:c:s1045235420300150

DOI: 10.1016/j.cpa.2020.102162

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