chapter  8
29 Pages

Financial accounting practice

WithCiarán Ó hÓgartaigh

Hopwood (2000: 763) remarks that:

[t]he institutional and social aspects of financial accounting are still relatively unexplored. Compared with our insights into the economic theory of income calculation and the economic determinants and consequences of modes of corporate financial reporting, our knowledge of how forms of financial accounting emerge from, sustain and modify wider institutional and social structures is modest.

One of the reasons Hopwood offers (2000: 764) for this lacuna in accounting research is that ‘insufficient attention [is] given to the actual practices of financial accounting’. This view of the history of accounting – and of accounting practice in particular – is increasingly prevalent (e.g. Burchell et al. 1980; Cooper and Sherer 1984; Tinker 1985): ‘the technical practices of accounting must be understood, not as the expression of some transcendental rationality, but as reflection and reinforcement of social, political, and economic relationships’ (Bryer 1993: 649).