Booth, P., The Sacred and the Secular: The Variable Significance of Accounting in a Religious Organization, School of Accounting & Finance, University of Wollongong, Working Paper 30, 1992.
There is a growing body of accounting literature that argues for the need to understand accounting as embedded in the social contexts within which it was developed and is used (for example, Berry et al, 1985; Burchell et al, 1980; Chua, 1988; Hopwood, 1978, 1983; Nahapiet, 1988; Preston, 1986). Instead of seeing accounting practices as functionally or dysfunctionally fitted to the organization, this literature tends to view them as reflexive constructions of the everyday activities of the members within their organizational and social context; as the result of specific organizational and social historical patterns. This focus replaces a concern with how accounting practices can be made to function more efficiently and effectively, which has been the dominant focus of accounting research, with a concern to explain why and how accounting is used in organizations. In other words, accounting is not assumed to have any inherent usefulness (Burchell et al, 1980), instead its prominence in modem organizational affairs becomes the problematic of study (Hopwood, 1978, 1983). How did accounting come to be what it is? How has 'what it is' changed? How do new uses emerge? In essence, the question - "..how.. does accounting achieve and maintain a position of organizational significance?" (Hopwood, 1983, p.291) - needs to be answered.