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The Anatomy of Tragedy: Starbucks as a Politics of Displacement

Carter, David and Warren, Rebecca and Steinhoff, Anne (2022) 'The Anatomy of Tragedy: Starbucks as a Politics of Displacement.' Accounting Auditing and Accountability Journal. ISSN 0951-3574

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Abstract

PURPOSE: This paper examines the 2012-2013 Starbucks tax crisis in the United Kingdom (UK) as an anatomy of tragedy. The tragedy in relation to Starbucks is the displacement of an opportunity to examine the relationship between financial capital and national capitalisms. The paper illustrates how the crisis displaced opportunities for substantive critique concerning financial capital, national capitalisms, multinationals, taxation and society. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: As a critical, discursive intervention, the paper examines how rhetoric was employed in 157 media articles published in six UK newspapers and on two news portals (both in print and online). The paper employs rhetorical redescription to the document archive, presenting the finding and analysis as a play in the style of an Aristotelian tragedy FINDINGS: Our analysis identifies misunderstandings of accounting, taxation transfer pricing, and ‘resolution’ and how the media’s construction of Starbucks as immoral, anti-British, potentially illegal operated to confuse the politics. The effect of these misunderstandings and confusion was to take attention away from a politics concerning financial capital valorisation and national capitalisms (jurisdictions raising tax revenue for government spending and social services). ORIGINALITY: First, we explore the politics of displacement to illustrate the metonymic concealment of the primary political. Second, we draw on Aristotelian tragedy to study and present methods of displacement. Third, we present the empirics in a dramatic format to illustrate how rhetorical interventions by the media and actors displaced the political focus away from financial capital and national capitalisms.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Displacement, tragedy, Starbucks, financial capital, transfer pricing, national capitalisms
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School > Essex Accounting Centre
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2022 20:56
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2022 15:29
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/32474

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