Year

1996

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Department of Accounting and Finance

Abstract

Here is a history of our times written on an unfamiliar theme. It is a study that uses Foucault's archaeology and genealogy, as method in history, to explain three central themes. It seeks to explicate, firstly, the relationship between accounting knowledge and power. Secondly, it seeks to show how human beings create an object in accounting knowledge and how they later become its subject. Finally this study seeks to demonstrate that a human science such as accounting is instrumental in social control. Income, the alpha and omega of accounting, is discoursed and constructed, making up accounting knowledge. The archaeology of income explains income as a social construct. It is then used as a tool for social control to create power, to categorise and to exclude. Income is later regulated and practised through the power of an institution like social welfare. This thesis draws the relationship between social welfare and the object known as income, and how it (income) is the basis upon which 'the poor' in Australian society are created. This constitutes Foucauldian genealogy. This thesis will argue that accounting will never explain what income is because it is not accounting that holds the key to an explanation or description of income. Rather, it is income that holds the key to the existence of accounting, and it is only through its regulation and practice by initially confining 'the poor', and later by excluding, marginal ising, categorising and hence controlling them, that we come to understand what income is. This view of history will explain why accounting exists and its relationship to wealth and poverty.

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