Author Archives: Andrew Read

Rugby-mad accounting academic. My research interests are in accounting history, accounting and popular culture, government accounting, and accounting education. My teaching interests focus on using technology to enhance engagement, using stories in teaching, and making teaching more efficient.

Patterns of everyday resistance: The case of Hmong Lao accounting records

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2017). Patterns of everyday resistance: The case of Hmong Lao accounting records. Paper presented at the Critical Perspectives on Accounting Conference, Quebec City.

Abstract: This research examines the use of accounting as a tool of micro-resistance using he methodological approach of Michel de Certeau. The accounting of the Hmong Lao is used as an example of micro-resistance. These records are non-traditional in format and the medium on which they are preserved, not by choice but because past oppression limited the options pertaining to all aspects of Hmong Lao accounting records. The records are image-based and preserved on traditional costumes, which enabled the Hmong Lao to keep the records’ contents secret while preserving them in plain view. This paradox is central to the records being tools of micro-resistance.

Paper available from ResearchGate

Advertisements

Financial control, blame avoidance and Radio Caroline: Talkin’ ‘bout my generation

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2017). Financial control, blame avoidance and Radio Caroline: Talkin’ ‘bout my generation. Accounting History, 22(3), 301-319. doi:10.1177/1032373216683527

Abstract: This research examines the use of financial mechanisms to impose controls while facilitating blame avoidance by public office-holders. A qualitative historical examination is used to examine legislation designed to prevent Radio Caroline, a pirate radio station, from broadcasting into Britain in the 1960s. Radio Caroline made a mockery of the British Government’s power to manage radio through a monopolist, the British Broadcasting Corporation. In addition, Radio Caroline played the type of rock music the British Government sought to suppress because it represented the undesirable side of youth culture. Hence, inter-generational conflict was connected to the British Government’s attitude towards Radio Caroline. This research examines the suppression of Radio Caroline through the Marine & Broadcasting (Offences) Act (UK) 1967 and the legislative scapegoating of Radio Caroline by targeting its revenue-earning potential. It demonstrates the use of financial control mechanisms to mask the strategies of governments.

The article is available from the journal

Choreography of the past: Accounting and the writing of Christine de Pizan

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2017). Choreography of the past: Accounting and the writing of Christine de Pizan. Accounting Historians Journal, 44(1), 51-62. doi:10.2308/aahj-10522

Abstract:  This research discusses The Treasure of the City of Ladies, a manuscript written by Christine de Pizan in France during early fifteenth century to give guidance on account-keeping and budgeting. Christine de Pizan was born in Italy but raised in the French royal court. Her manuscript gives the keeping of accounts and budget management a religious imperative. She describes them as functions where the three Divine virtues of reason, rectitude and justice are applied. Christine de Pizan describes how demonstrating these virtues through proper keeping of accounts and budgets is a way to demonstrate love of God. Although historical accounting records show how accounting was done, this manuscript explains why it was done. In giving a rationale for single-entry bookkeeping and budgeting, the manuscript provides a source that prevents present-mindedness when attempting to undertake contemporary analyses of accounting records from this historical period.

Full copy of the paper is available from the journal

Their name liveth for evermore: Accounting for the human cost of war

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2017). Their name liveth for evermore: Accounting for the human cost of war. Paper presented at the 40th Annual Congress of the European Accounting Association, Valencia.

Abstract:  The currency of war is human life yet the cost of human life lost in war remains an under-researched area of accounting.  This research uses a qualitative and historical research design to consider accounting for the cost of human life lost in war, contending that war cemeteries are accounting reports.  Through a qualitative and historical approach, the accounting content of war cemeteries built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and it predecessors, is considered.  The planning and building of these cemeteries is examined to illustrate key features of the cemeteries as accounting reports and the information content they were designed to convey.  In addition, the transformative power of accounting is considered to illustrate how meaning has been transformed over time in the interpretation of the cemeteries as accounting reports.  The cemeteries were built after the First World War.  Three time periods are examined to demonstrate shifts in meaning: in the inter-war period, Cold War period, and contemporary period.  This research suggests the epistemological and ontological boundaries of accounting are already able to accommodate war cemeteries and their construction as accounting reports.  This research highlights the heteroglossic dimensions of accounting provided by the power of users to give meaning to accounting disclosures.

Full paper available from ResearchGate

The relationship between accounting and shell shock in British Army Medical Units 1914-18

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2017). The relationship between accounting and shell shock in British Army Medical Units 1914-18. Paper presented at the 40th Annual Congress of the European Accounting Association, Valencia.

This paper is an updated version of:

  • Accounting and medicine: British Army medical units and shell shock during the First World War
  • “Broken and mad”: Accounting, shell shock and the British Army medical unit 1914-18

Abstract:  This research examines the role of accounting in creating and enforcing stigma.  To do this, we consider the accounting practices used by British Army Medical Units during the First World War and the way those practices contributed to the stigmatisation of soldiers suffering from shell shock.  At the time shell shock was a little understood disease.  Many questioned whether it was a real illness or whether sufferers were actually malingerers and cowards and medical units.  The introduction of onerous accounting procedures for men treated for shell shock and ineffective budgeting methods that led to inadequate resourcing of medical units created tensions that added to the stigmatisation of men with shell shock. We examine how the complexity of accounting by medical units intermediated between those imposing stigma and those stigmatised.  Accounting procedures can both contribute to and alleviate stigma.  We conclude that the relationship between accounting and stigma is complex and multi-faceted and should be considered in its societal context and conjunction with other stigmatising aspects of society.

Full paper is available from ResearchGate

Believing the impossible: the use of visual metaphor to surprise accounting students

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2017). Believing the impossible: the use of visual metaphor to surprise accounting students. Paper presented at the BAFA Accounting Education SIG Annual Conference 2017, Cardiff.

Abstract:  To explain the concept of faithful representation in accounting, four works of art were presented to students.  By using the works of art as visual metaphors for different artistic approaches to faithful representation, students were able to construct shared meaning that helped them understand the application of faithful representation in an accounting context.  In this research, we explore the responses of the students to the works of art, how the art-works created dialogue that helped students to construct meaning in accounting, and student responses to the use of visual metaphor as a teaching technique in accounting.

Full paper is available from ResearchGate

The purgatorial shadows of war: Accounting, blame and shell shock pensions, 1914–1923

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2017). The purgatorial shadows of war: Accounting, blame and shell shock pensions 1914-1923. Accounting History, 22(1), 5-28. doi:10.1177/1032373216656648

Abstract:  This research analyses the role of accounting in British disablement pensions awarded to men who sustained shell shock during their Army service in the First World War. In this context, “accounting” refers to the classification of medical conditions when determining pension eligibility and awards. Pension classifications were prejudiced towards men with physical disabilities and against men with shell shock. Accounting classification’s ability to make a medical condition invisible is central to this research. The invisibility of shell shock as a medical condition in the pension classification system led to financial discrimination against men with shell shock. The immorality of this discrimination was hidden by a system of accounting classification that distanced decision-makers from the ramifications of their decisions. In addition, the Minister of Pensions adopted blame avoidance techniques to protect his Ministry and the British government from criticism occasioned by the discriminatory treatment of men with shell shock.

Full paper available from Accounting History

Accounting and medicine: British Army medical units and shell shock during the First World War

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2016). Accounting and medicine: British Army medical units and shell shock during the First World War. Paper presented at the 14th World Congress of Accounting Historians, Pescara.

Abstract: This research enhances our understanding of the role of accounting in creating and enforcing stigma. We examine the accounting practices of British Army medical units during the First World War, focusing on forward medical units which were located immediately behind a battle area to provide the first place for medical evacuation and treatment outside a fighting zone. Inflexible and inappropriate accounting processes placed an onerous burden on these units, causing medical and management difficulties which had a direct impact on the classification, triaging and treatment of men requiring medical attention. While disadvantaging all men requiring medical treatment, the accounting issues surrounding forward line medical units proved particularly problematic for men with shell shock, contributing to their stigmatisation. Our research suggests that stigma can be the unintended consequence of an accounting system.

Full paper available through Andrew Read’s ResearchGate page

In the valley of the shadow of death : Accounting and identity in Thai-Burma Railway prison camps 1942-45

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2016). In the valley of the shadow of death : Accounting and identity in Thai-Burma Railway prison camps 1942-45. Paper presented at the 14th World Congress of Accounting Historians, Pescara.

Abstract: This research uses an historical qualitative approach that focuses on archival information supported by oral testimonies to examine accounting records by soldiers serving in the Australian Army during the Second World War. The unique feature of these records is that they were kept by men who were prisoners of war forced to work as slave labourers in Japanese labour camps to build the Thai-Burma railway. They were not permitted to have supplies that would enable them to keep accounting records, nor were they permitted to make any formal accounting records so these records were made and hidden at great personal risk. The punishment making and keeping these records was torture and/or death. The records are artefacts that were important for supporting a group identity for the prisoners as soldiers, counterbalancing the Japanese construction of the prisoner of war as shameful and worthless. Social identity theory developed from prisoner of war experiences and indicates the importance of artefacts that support positive group identity. We suggest that this example may reveal that accounting records are fundamental to society because they evidence and record social group membership.

Full paper available through Andrew Read’s ResearchGate page

Go gentle babe: Accounting and the London Foundling Hospital 1757–97

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2016). Go gentle babe: Accounting and the London Foundling Hospital 1757–97. Accounting History, 21(2-3), 167-184. doi:10.1177/1032373216644259

Abstract:  The London Foundling Hospital was a charitable institution established to turn children of the poor into virtuous and industrious members of society. Poverty-stricken parents gave their children, known as foundlings, to the hospital which cared for and educated them until they could be placed into employment. Since eighteenth-century Britain stigmatized and marginalized the poor, viewing them as immoral and indigent. An important aspect of the charity’s function was (re)creating stigmatized foundling identities so they could leave the hospital as accepted members of mainstream society. This research examines the role of accounting in supporting the hospital’s efforts to (re)create stigmatized identities. We examine the plethora of records the hospital maintained about every aspect of the children’s lives, which were both mechanisms of surveillance and control and evidence of the hospital’s successful efforts in moulding the foundlings into virtuous and industrious members of society. The hospital did not distinguish between financial and non-financial records, ensuring both were regularly reviewed and audited before being made available to selected members of the public. We contrast the public availability of these records, which evidenced hospital (re)created identities, with the hospital’s secrecy surrounding tokens, small items given by a parent when hospitalizing a child. We contend that the tokens were a form of accounting record that represented stigmatized identities of the poor and had to be hidden so they could be replaced with (re)created acceptable identities. We conclude that examining accounting records maintained by the hospital provides insights into the role accounting can play in supporting the work of charitable institutions seeking to create social acceptability for stigmatized groups.

Full paper available from Accounting History