When the war is over: Accounting for people with disabilities

Publication Name

Accounting History


We assess the extent to which accounting discourse was used during the aftermath of the Second World War as a way of reconceptualising the notion of a person with disabilities from welfare recipient to income earner. Drawing on Foucault's notion of pastoral power, we interpret archival documents from this important period in the development of disability policy in Australia, which is so far unexplored in the accounting literature. We reveal the role of accounting in rationalising and operationalising government initiatives and programs assembled to address the ‘problem of disability’. We show that accounting terminology and techniques were mobilised as a way of justifying the transference of people with disabilities into sheltered workshops, a process that aimed to transform them into income earners who could contribute to the national economy.

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