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Assessing the validity of accounting for human rights: A pragmatic constructivist perspective

Pianezzi, D and Cinquini, L (2016) 'Assessing the validity of accounting for human rights: A pragmatic constructivist perspective.' Qualitative Research in Accounting and Management, 13 (3). 370 - 391. ISSN 1176-6093

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Purpose - This paper aims to focus on accounting for human rights. It explores the validity of conflicting theoretical perspectives on accounting and their ability to reduce the gap between accounting and accountability for human rights. Design/methodology/approach - This study relies on the notion of topos to develop a pragmatic constructivist perspective on conventional accounting and social accounting with respect to human rights. Applying pragmatic constructivism permits a better understanding and assessment of the ethics underpinning the conventional and social accounting approaches. Findings - The ethics underpinning the topos of conventional accounting offer a reductive explanation of the agency of organizational actors, so inhibiting moral and social responsibility. Furthermore, the calculative logic that dominates this topos promotes a monovocal form of communication (to shareholders) and translates values per se into instrumental values. By contrast, the social accounting topos sheds new light on the role that accounting may play in detecting human rights violations, by focusing more on communication and social values. However, for this topos to be valid, alternative management practices that go beyond voluntary social reporting need to be further developed. Originality/value - Human rights accountability is an urgent challenge for companies in today's society. However, scholars have largely disregarded the role of accounting in the process of holding companies accountable for human rights violations. By questioning the relationship between accounting and human rights, this paper takes a first step towards resolving this issue.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Accountability, Human rights, Pragmatic constructivism, Social accounting
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School > Essex Accounting Centre
Depositing User: Daniela Pianezzi
Date Deposited: 04 May 2017 12:30
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2018 16:15

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