Year

2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Accounting, Economics and Finance

Abstract

This thesis draws on Gramsci’s theory of hegemony to investigate links between political ideologies and accounting systems. In particular, the thesis examines the impact of political ideologies on Chinese accounting systems in the period from 1949 to 1992, and explains the role of accounting intellectuals in the process of ideological diffusion within the accounting discipline in different transitional and crises periods; the aim is to reveal the political nature of the accounting system in the process of maintaining the political hegemony throughout period in China.

This thesis adopts the new accounting history methodology through a narrative lens to investigate the development of accounting history in China. As suggested by many studies, the new accounting history methodology offers a guide for accounting studies by locating accounting systems within specific belief and power systems and different social backgrounds at particular points in time. The value of this methodology is heightened when it is combined with insights from a critical theory. This thesis incorporates Gramsci’s (1971) theory of hegemony as part of its methodological framework, and provides an alternative perspective on the evolution of the accounting system in China in its unique political and social contexts. Funnell’s (1998) historical narrative is adopted to construct the accounting history in this thesis. Specifically, the combination of new accounting history research and Gramsci’s theory of hegemony enables this thesis to reveal the dominant political ideologies in transitional and crisis periods in China following three distinctive historical periods, and indicates the role of traditional and organic intellectuals in the process of ideological struggle to reveal the political nature of accounting.

The contributions of this thesis can be summarised in three aspects. First, using Gramsci’s theory of hegemony to conduct accounting history makes a contribution not only in uncovering the important role of political leaders in the accounting system setting, but also in exposing how the accounting system in China has served a political purpose through accounting intellectuals’ ideological struggle and diffusion within Chinese political and social contexts. In this way, it provides some knowledge and understanding for the current practice in China. Further, it shows that Gramsci’s theory of hegemony is useful in conducting historical inquiry, and potentially offers an alternative framework to reveal some historical facts that have been ignored by other studies. Second, it is appropriate to use the new accounting history to narrate an accounting history over a long historical period, and it is an example of combining critical and narrative approaches to conduct accounting history. Third, this research provides a contribution to understanding the development of accounting history in China in three distinctive periods: the first socialist stage in the Maoist regime, the second organic crisis period under the Maoist era, and the socialist market system in the Dengist era. In its examination of the underlying ideological forces of accounting systems in each period, this thesis also reveals the active role of accounting intellectuals in the process of the diffusion of political ideologies, and reflects the political nature of accounting in maintaining the political hegemony throughout the periods examined.

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