In search of consensus : The role of accounting in the definition and reproduction of dominant interests
Morales, Jérémy; Farjaudon, Anne-Laure (2012), In search of consensus : The role of accounting in the definition and reproduction of dominant interests, XXIème conférence de l'AIMS, 2012-06, Lille, France
TypeCommunication / Conférence
Conference titleXXIème conférence de l'AIMS
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Abstract (EN)This paper examines the role of consensus in the reproduction of dominant interests. Consensus building is often considered a central value for rational decision making and management. However, more than a democratic confrontation of vantage points, the quest for consensus constitutes a way to deny asymmetries in positions of power, i.e., to discourage conflict and resistance in order to promote dominating interests (and to silence others) as if they were collective. Our main argument is that accounting and consensus play central roles in processes of definition and the reproduction of dominant interests. Precisely, we argue that accounting acts to promote some stakes and strategies (and silence others), as if they were collective and disinterested, which makes them more powerful in debates that deny struggles and asymmetries in positions of power, as well as increases legitimacy by creating an illusion of participation. Bourdieu’s conceptualisation of symbolic domination helps clarify how powerful actors secure influence and consolidate positions while avoiding contestation. A field study documents the intersection of two fields of knowledge, marketing and accounting, that compete to monopolize the definition of value and the ability to speak for the organisation. Accounting produces symbolic violence to legitimise the reproduction of asymmetrical positions of power by shaping what is consensual and what is not.
Subjects / KeywordsConsensus; symbolic domination; brand valuation
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