Immigration and neoliberalism: three cases and counter accounts

Cheryl R Lehman, Marcia Annisette,, Gloria Agyemang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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This paper advocates for critical accounting’s contribution to immigration deliberations as part of its agenda for advancing social justice. The paper’s ambition is to illustrate accounting as implicated in immigration policies of three advanced economies.

We suggest that neoliberal immigration policies are operationalised through the responsibilization of individuals, corporations, and universities. By examining three immigration policies from the US, Canada and the UK, the paper clarifies how accounting technologies facilitate responsibilization techniques, making immigration governable. Additionally, by employing immigrant narratives as counter accounts, the impacts of immigrant lived experiences can be witnessed.

Accounting upholds neoliberal principles of life by expanding market mentalities and governance, through technologies of measurement, reports, audits and surveillance. A neoliberal strategy of responsibilization contributes to divesting authority for immigration policy in an attempt to erase the social and moral agency of immigrants, with accounting integral to this process. However the social cannot be eradicated as our work illustrates in the narratives and counter accounts that immigrants create.

Research implications/limitations
The work reveals the illusion of accounting as neutral. As no single story captures the nuances and complexities of immigration practices, further exploration is encouraged.

The work is a unique contribution to the underdeveloped study of immigration in critical accounting. By unmasking accounting’s role and revealing techniques underpinning immigration discourses, enhanced ways of researching immigration are possible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-79
Number of pages37
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2016

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