In search of consensus: The role of accounting in the definition and reproduction of dominant interests
This article examines the role of accounting in the manufacture of consensus. Consensus building is often considered a central value for rational decision-making and management. However, more than a democratic confrontation of vantage points, the quest for consensus is a way to discourage conflict and resistance. Our main argument is that accounting and consensus play central roles in processes of definition and the social reproduction of dominant interests. Accounting acts to promote some stakes and strategies (and silence others), as if they were collective and disinterested, which makes them more powerful in debates that deny struggles and asymmetries in positions of power, as well as increases legitimacy by creating an illusion of participation. We illustrate these processes through a case study in which we document the intersection between two fields of knowledge, marketing and accounting, that compete for a monopoly on the definition of value and the ability to speak for the organisation. This analysis draws on Bourdieu's conceptualisation of symbolic domination to highlight how powerful actors secure influence while avoiding contestation. Accounting produces symbolic violence that consolidates asymmetries in positions of power by shaping what is consensual and what is not so that dominant interests are reproduced with the consent of those who have most to lose in the process.
|Date of creation:||2013|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||Published in Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 2013, Vol. 24, no. 2. pp. 154-171.Length: 17 pages|
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.dauphine.fr/en/welcome.html|
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