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'A dense mass of petty accountability': Accounting in the service of cultural imperialism during the Irish Famine, 1846-1847


  • O'Regan, Philip


One response of the imperial government in London to the Irish Famine (1845-1849) was to initiate a scheme of public works underpinned by relief payments based on task work. This policy was informed by a determination to improve the 'moral habits' of the native Irish in relation to work. To support the data collection and control systems necessary to operate this intervention, the imperial government recruited a large number of accountants charged with introducing a vast accounting apparatus to Ireland. The institutionalisation of accounting that this facilitated laid the basis for interventions by the imperial power intended to 'civilise' the native Gaelic population as well as recalcitrant Anglo-Irish landlords. This intervention is considered within the context of concepts of governmentality and cultural imperialism.

Suggested Citation

  • O'Regan, Philip, 2010. "'A dense mass of petty accountability': Accounting in the service of cultural imperialism during the Irish Famine, 1846-1847," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 416-430, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:35:y:2010:i:4:p:416-430

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Walker, Stephen P., 2004. "Expense, social and moral control. Accounting and the administration of the old poor law in England and Wales," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 85-127.
    2. Y.M. Sharaiha & J.E. Beasley, 1999. "Foreword," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 86(0), pages 0, January.
    3. Annisette, Marcia, 2000. "Imperialism and the professions: the education and certification of accountants in Trinidad and Tobago," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 25(7), pages 631-659, October.
    4. Walker, Stephen P., 2008. "Accounting, paper shadows and the stigmatised poor," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 33(4-5), pages 453-487.
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