Publication Details

This article was originally published as Smark, CJ, Accounting and Asylums: A case study reflecting on the role of accounting related thinking in deinstitutionalisation policy in New South Wales, in Juchau, R & Tibbits, G (eds), Celebrating Accounting, University of Western Sydney, 2006, 262-291.


ABSTRACT This case study reflects on the way in which accounting-related thinking informed the process of deinstitutionalisation from mental hospitals in New South Wales. A test to establish dominant motivations in changes in social policy (developed by sociologist Andrew Scull (1984) in his study of deinstitutionalisation in England and the United States of America) is explained and applied to the outcomes of deinstitutionalisation in New South Wales. This test is applied using a policy evaluation model adapted from Puckett (1993). This case study concludes that the dominant force motivating the way in which deinstitutionalisation policy was implemented in New South Wales drew largely on economic rationalist calculus. Some of the societal difficulties inherent in using such rationalist calculus (biased towards quantified, monetary, accounting entity assumptions) as a means of evaluating social policies are then considered