Year

1993

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Department of Accountancy

Abstract

In this thesis I tell a story of my journey in accounting education, particularly as it relates to the giving of meaning to the phrase 'A True & Fair View', as it is used in external financial reporting. I have used the critical methodology of Habermas, enriching it by drawing on constructivist and feminist methodologies.

In the theoretical work I explored the three stages of Habennas's theory of communicative action, including an exposition of theoretical, therapeutic and practical discourses. In doing so, I have drawn on critical and feminist pedagogic critiques of Habermas to analyse the ideal speech situation. I also used feminist and psychoanalytic literature to critique Habermas's use of Freud in his therapeutic discourse.

In the critical-empirical work, I constructed the various discourses with four small groups of people as students. This was initiated through identifying their meanings for the phrase, and constructing tentative explanations, based on the Habermasian interpretation of needs. Then various critical theorems were derived. Both the tentative interpretations and the critical theorems were presented to the four groups of participants, who then conducted various practical discourses. Finally the participants were required to prepare reports giving 'A True & Fair View' of the process. Outcomes of the research/teaching process included the identification of the need for a critical exposition of ethics throughout programmes of accounting, and the courage to use self-reflective journals in accounting education.

I drew on constructivist pedagogic literature to evaluate the authenticity of the work. Various dimensions of authenticity, including ontological, educative, catalytic and tactical were used to construct this evaluation. Ontological authenticity was gauged by the extent to which I had an increased awareness of my own constructions. Educative authenticity was gauged by the extent to which I had an increased awareness of the constructions of other participants. Catalytic and tactical authenticity were explored by considering the extent to which the research acted as a catalyst for action, and increased my ability to carry out action on behalf of myself and other participants.

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