Publication Details

Rudkin, K. (2002) Applying critical ethnographic methodology and method in accounting research. Critical Perspectives on Accounting Conference. 25-27 April 2002 (pp. 1 - 33). New York: Baruch College.


This paper provides a perspective on the methodological integrity of doing critical ethnographies. Critical ethnography investigates context specific social and cultural uses of accounting in an organization. This paper describes the nature and genealogy of ethnographic research. While this methodology satisfies calls for context specific and ideologically aware research, researchers need to be cognizant of their constitutive role in the ethnographic research they produce. Key limitations in ethnographic research identified are the limiting factors of language, the morphing effects of context, imperfections of the researcher, and ethical considerations surrounding the verification and ownership of data. Despite these limitations, strengths in this research methodology are determined to outweigh the limitations identified. Ethnographic methodology has the advantage of permitting the research process to acknowledge ideological structures and values inherent in accounting systems, provides a sensitivity to gender and marginalized others, and exploits the richness of the use of language, text and symbol.