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Makeover accounting: Investigating the meaning-making practices of financial accounts

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  • Bay, Charlotta

Abstract

The constitutive ability of accounting to produce effects, influencing people's minds and behaviour, has been widely acknowledged in accounting literature. This paper argues, however, that in order for accounting to have an impact on people, its figures needs to be interpretable to its intended users. But what happens in situations where people are considered as inhibited in reading and interpreting financial information? This paper investigates how financial accounts are presented to individuals believed to be impaired in their ability to make sense of its figures. It does so by moving the empirical focus beyond the borders of the professional organisation and into the private sphere of everyday life, examining how a televised financial makeover show literally re-presents financial information in order to turn its participants into financially responsible citizens. The paper's empirical findings give reasons for problematising the conditions under which accounting is able to affect people, concluding that, without taking people's ability to interpret financial accounts into consideration, the possibilities of the accounts having an impact on their users risk falling short.

Suggested Citation

  • Bay, Charlotta, 2018. "Makeover accounting: Investigating the meaning-making practices of financial accounts," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 44-54.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:64:y:2018:i:c:p:44-54
    DOI: 10.1016/j.aos.2017.12.002
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