Adding critical accounting voices to migration studies

Gloria Agyemang, Cheryl R. Lehman

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The field of migration study is continually evolving and frequently controversial. Although scholars in many disciplines have actively contributed to migration research, accounting scholars have been less actively engaged, despite migration’s use of concepts so closely aligned with accounting: costs, benefits, risk, and control. This paper considers how accounting researchers may contribute to the study of migration, highlighting the potential for critical researchers to re-define terrains of discourse.

Migration theories are introduced, illustrating the complexities and interconnectedness of the role of globalization, poverty, state functioning, and the social sciences. We integrate previous research of accounting, revealing the discipline as part of the language and neoliberal agenda imbued in migration issues, and its participation in co-creating precarious boundaries and myopic concepts defining the debates.

We provide a case analysis, illustrating accounting’s calculative practices and rhetoric as obscuring social issues in migration. We reveal accounting’s role in simplifying reality, ignoring the complex interdependencies and powerful forces at play in migration arenas.

The work’s originality is contained in its unique framing of migration discourse, revealing the skewed and shadowy assumptions of its traditional discourse, and examining how critical research expands possibilities for promoting social justice in the migration landscape.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261–272
JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
Issue number4-5
Early online date9 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • Accountability
  • Migration studies

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