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The use of made-up users

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  • Stenka, Renata
  • Jaworska, Sylvia

Abstract

The existence of fictitious users of financial statements has been confirmed in previous research. Our study investigates how this powerful yet ‘made-up’ construct is deployed within the discourses of the main stakeholders including ‘real’ users themselves, as they shape regulatory debates in the international accounting standard-setting arena. We draw on Bourdieu’s theorization of dominant discourse as a form of implicit power, and develop it further within the phraseological theory of meaning, specifically the linguistic concept of collocation, which focuses on habitual language patterns. Using this framework, we conduct a comparative analysis of the recurrent linguistic choices around the term ‘user’ in comment letters submitted in response to selected IASB’s regulatory proposals. Our study provides empirical evidence for the existence of commonalties and subtle differences in the ways in which made-up users are discursively operationalized by four key accounting constituent groups: the accounting profession, preparers, regulators, and ‘real’ users of financial statements. At the theoretical and methodological level, we demonstrate the explanatory power of the concept of collocation and its role in the identification of implicit patterns of dominant discourse in Bourdieu’s sense. Our research also shows that the close investigation of how the dominant discourse of the made-up users works generates a series of new why questions regarding the ‘real’ users’ role in accounting standard setting.

Suggested Citation

  • Stenka, Renata & Jaworska, Sylvia, 2019. "The use of made-up users," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:78:y:2019:i:c:s036136821930042x
    DOI: 10.1016/j.aos.2019.07.001
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