chapter  5
34 Pages

Bookkeeping

WithAlisdair Dobie, David Oldroyd

The chapter analyses key themes and debates in the history of bookkeeping within a broadly chronological arrangement, starting with Classical Greece and Rome and continuing with sections on the Roman legacy, West and East, developments in the Islamic world, medieval charge and discharge accounting, mercantile accounting, the origins of double-entry, early industry and the Victorian expansion during the nineteenth century. The aim of the chapter is to embed developments in bookkeeping practice within their social and economic contexts. Tracking rights and obligations, holding agents accountable, conveying information at a distance, dealing with complexity and acting as a legal record are identified as the recurrent functions of bookkeeping throughout its history. Changes in practice were prompted by a diverse range of factors, including economic opportunity, political and religious pressure, conquest, educational developments and the influence of significant individuals.