What is (accounting) history?



Publication Details

Gaffikin, M. (2011). What is (accounting) history?. Accounting History, 16 (3), 235-251.


It is a truism that researchers working in a field of study should understand how what they research and publish can be claimed to contribute to the knowledge of that field of study. The historian Edward Carr was concerned that his subject may ¿on closer inspection, seem trivial¿ which led him, in his well-known book of the same title, to pose the question ¿what is history?¿. It may also be suggested that over the years much of what was claimed to be accounting history was little more than fairly trivial, self indulgent, quirky antiquarianism which made little ¿real¿ contribution to our understanding of the past and whether it held any implications for our understanding of our present or future. However, more recently it has been claimed that accounting history has ¿come of age¿ as an intellectual pursuit. This paper explores the basis of such a claim by tracing the development of accepted historiography in professional history and then assessing how well the work of accounting historians ¿matches¿ the developments in general history. In doing this the intention is to draw the attention of accounting history researchers to important matters they may have overlooked.

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