Publication Details

Nikidehaghani, M. & Mehmet, M. I. (2015). Accounting and Accountability for Disability Benefits: A Foucauldian Study of the History of Disability Benefit Protocols in Australia (1909-1961). Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Accounting Conference (pp. 1-35).


Public welfare payments have played a central role in providing financial-and service-based support for the disabled in Australia since the early part of the twentieth century. This study examines the role that discursive regimes of accounting and accountability have played in these regimes between 1909 and 1961. By examining the Means Test, a key technique and strategy used to qualify or disqualify citizens as disabled, the paper demonstrates the salient role that accounting techniques have played in these governmental programs. Through this demonstration the study reveals the array of implications for the disabled of accounting techniques applied to their identities and suggests that financial characteristics of the identity of the disabled often override a duty and ethic of care. Applying a Foucauldian perspective to archival data, the study explores how accounting practices associated with the disability support program were instrumental in identifying desired targets for austerity and the refusal of care. The findings identify how accountability assisted the government to construct the identities of disabled people in a way that facilitated the ability of the State to subject the disabled to continuous monitoring and observation. Further, the paper reveals how techniques of accounting functioned as a "technology of the self" (Foucault 1988), and facilitated the process of transforming individuals into accountable and subjugated citizens.

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