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Accounting textbooks: Exploring the production of a cultural and political artifact


  • John Ferguson
  • David Collison
  • David Power
  • Lorna Stevenson


This paper explores the production of introductory financial accounting textbooks in the UK. Despite being a pervasive pedagogical device (see Brown and Guilding, 1993, Accounting Education: an international journal, 4(2) pp. 211-218), there has been little research carried out which examines the role or contents of textbooks in accounting education. This is a surprising gap in the literature when one considers the numerous concerns that have been expressed regarding the content of accounting education, the values which it projects and the type of student which it produces. Drawing on contemporary research into textbooks, this paper considers accounting textbooks to be 'cultural artifacts' which may reflect the cultural, ideological, and political interests of particular groups in society. In this regard, introductory financial textbooks have the potential to reinforce cultural homogeneity through the advancement of shared attitudes. This study is based upon 12 semi-structured interviews with both textbook authors and commissioning editors. Results indicate that the contents of textbooks are the product of complex social and cultural relations. Whilst conflicts and negotiations may characterize the production process, the knowledge that is considered most 'legitimate' tends to be mandated, either directly or indirectly, by professional accounting bodies through course accreditation requirements. Furthermore, this knowledge reflects wider cultural issues and assumptions regarding the structure of society and of how it should be organized.

Suggested Citation

  • John Ferguson & David Collison & David Power & Lorna Stevenson, 2006. "Accounting textbooks: Exploring the production of a cultural and political artifact," Accounting Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(3), pages 243-260.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:accted:v:15:y:2006:i:3:p:243-260
    DOI: 10.1080/09639280600850679

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sally Aisbitt, 2005. "International accounting books: Publishers' dream, authors' nightmare and educators' reality," Accounting Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(3), pages 349-360.
    2. Peter Feige, 1997. "How 'uniform' is financial reporting in Germany? - The example of foreign currency translation," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 109-122, May.
    3. Doyle, Peter, 1994. "Setting business objectives and measuring performance," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 123-132, June.
    4. A. E. Fernández Jilberto, 1991. "Introduction," International Journal of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(1), pages 3-9, March.
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    2. repec:eee:joaced:v:33:y:2015:i:3:p:198-218 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:accfor:v:35:y:2011:i:1:p:47-60 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:crpeac:v:20:y:2009:i:8:p:896-909 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Irene Gordon, 2011. "Lessons to be Learned: An Examination of Canadian and U.S. Financial Accounting and Auditing Textbooks for Ethics/Governance Coverage," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 101(1), pages 29-47, June.
    6. repec:eee:joaced:v:28:y:2010:i:3:p:145-197 is not listed on IDEAS

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    Textbooks; accreditation; ideology; hegemony;


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