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Doing the truth: religion – deconstruction – justice, and accounting

Listed author(s):
  • John Francis McKernan
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    Purpose - The paper's purpose is to use religious thought to inform accounting, and in particular to make a contribution to the ongoing debates concerning the merits of rules- and principles-based accounting systems and the value of a rule-overriding requirement of fair presentation in financial reporting. Design/methodology/approach - The paper applies to accounting a conception of religion that is heavily influenced by Jacques Derrida's writings on religion and deconstruction. In order to clarify the nature of this religion and to facilitate appreciation of its significance for accounting it is progressively recast, in the paper, first in terms of deconstruction and then in terms of a demand for an infinite justice. Findings - At the core of the paper, religious responsibility, as a demand for justice, in accounting is explored through Derrida's analysis of the relation between justice and law, which is found to have clear application to accounting in terms of an aporetic tension between an infinite demand for fairness in accounting and accounting regulation. Practical implications - The analysis implies that the pursuit of justice as fairness in accounting, “doing the truth” in accounting, will always demand the negotiation of an unstable and difficult mediation between the poles of regulation and fairness, the calculable and the incalculable, the possible and the impossible. Originality/value - The paper draws on the postsecular current in religion to make a novel contribution to the critical and interdisciplinary awareness in accounting that has begun to unsettle the hold that certain modernist dichotomies, such as that of myth and reason, have had on accounting thought.

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    Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal.

    Volume (Year): 20 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 5 (September)
    Pages: 729-764

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    Handle: RePEc:eme:aaajpp:v:20:y:2007:i:5:p:729-764
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    1. Schweiker, William, 1993. "Accounting for ourselves: Accounting practice and the discourse of ethics," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 18(2-3), pages 231-252, April.
    2. Emmanuel, Clive & Garrod, Neil, 2004. "Rules- versus judgement-based accounting disclosure in the UK," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 441-455.
    3. Lee Moerman, 2006. "People as prophets: liberation theology as a radical perspective on accounting," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 19(2), pages 169-185, February.
    4. McSWEENEY, BRENDAN, 1997. "The Unbearable Ambiguity Of Accounting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 22(7), pages 691-712, October.
    5. Arrington, C. Edward & Francis, Jere R., 1989. "Letting the chat out of the bag: Deconstruction, privilege and accounting research," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 14(1-2), pages 1-28, January.
    6. Shearer, Teri, 2002. "Ethics and accountability: from the for-itself to the for-the-other," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 541-573, August.
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