Not at our Table: Stakeholder Exclusion and Ant/Agonistic Engagements

Helen Tregidga, Markus Milne

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This paper responds to calls for a pluralist approach to accounting and accountability research. It contributes to an emerging literature on stakeholder engagement that seeks to problematise extant practice and enquiry. Based on an environmental dispute over coal mining, it analyses stakeholder engagement through the lens of agonistic democracy. We develop a framework to illustrate and analyse how democracy in action occurs within the mining dispute.

Our framework focuses on three interrelated levels: 1) the construction of the contested issue, 2) the construction of identities, and 3) the construction of spaces for engagement. Data sources include a large archive of publicly available material (published reports, online media, blogs and print media) and interviews with participants representing multiple conflicting positions. Findings indicate the tensions that exist at each of the three interrelated levels in our framework, each of which affects not only how engagement is ‘practiced’ but also how it can (and we would argue should) be researched.

We contribute to the literature by providing a framework informed by agonistic democracy to analyse multi-stakeholder engagements in contested arenas. This framework broadens and opens up analyses of accountability relationships to contests over issues, rather than take organisation-centric foci, and to means of engagement beyond rational consensus seeking and reporting. It sheds light on conflict rather than shies away from it.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102265
JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
Early online date29 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

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