chapter  5
Accounting representation and Baudrillard’s Orders of Simulacra and his Hyperreality
Pages 26

The present analysis was inspired by the paper of Macintosh et al. (2000), which applied Baudrillard’s (1981, 1988) notion of ‘hyperreality’, his ‘orders of simulacra’ and related postmodern notions to accounting. The Macintosh et al. (2000) paper claims that the accountants ‘concepts of income, capital, etc. have ceased to refer to real objects or events’, and that ‘accounting no longer functions according to the logic of transparent representation, stewardship or information economics’. To examine whether postmodern concepts, with their focus on modern information technology, can explain why ‘contemporary accounting issues have become so controversial and difficult to resolve’ is undoubtedly a praiseworthy undertaking. I shall try to analyse this effort from the viewpoint of the OMR (see Chapters 1, 2, and 7) and the perspective of purpose-oriented accounting representation. Whether Baudrillard’s approach is appropriate for our discipline, is at least partly, a philosophical question – one that can hardly avoid the bias inherent in a particular worldview. But whoever has not ruled out the practice of rational reasoning must admit its usefulness in disclosing category mistakes (e.g. confusing questions of methodology with those of ontology), distorting metaphors, sloppy syntax and other flaws that lie beyond personal philosophical differences.