Re-politicizing social and environmental accounting through Rancière: On the value of dissensus

Judy Brown, Helen Tregidga

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The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the value and potential of Jacques Rancière's writings in developing social and environmental accounting (SEA) in ways that help revitalize democratic politics. Key concepts and theoretical insights from Rancière's own texts and commentaries by others are presented and the political potential of SEA theory and practice reflected on. We argue that Rancière's account of politics as a radical challenge to the established order based on egalitarian logic and supporting historical examples highlight the limitations of consensus-oriented SEA engagement and demonstrate the need for, and enabling potential of, dissensus in opening new social realities. In stark contrast to the post-political trends that dominate in SEA and contemporary neoliberal democracies, we show how Rancière's insights on emergent political demands and the staging of dissensus in opposition to police logic contribute to debates on SEA engagement. We illustrate the power and originality of Rancière's thinking by re-examining two SEA studies – those of Unerman and Bennett (2004) and Archel, Husillos & Spence (2011) – through a Rancièrian lens.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
Early online date18 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017

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