Category Archives: Power

“This degrading and stealthy practice”: Accounting, stigma and indigenous wages in Australia 1897-1972

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2018). “This degrading and stealthy practice”: Accounting, stigma and Indigenous wages in Australia 1897-1972. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 31(2), 456-477. doi:10.1108/AAAJ-10-2014-1839

The purpose of this paper is to make visible the relationship between accounting and stigma in the absence of accounting. This research examines how failure to implement mandatory accounting and auditing requirements in the management of indigenous wages contributed to stigmatisation of indigenous Australians and led to maladministration and unchecked financial fraud that continued for over 75 years. The accounting failures are by those charged with protecting the financial interests of the indigenous population.

An historical and qualitative approach has been used that draws upon archival and contemporary sources.

Prior research has examined the nexus between accounting mechanisms and stigma. This research suggests that the absence of accounting mechanisms can also contribute to stigma.

Research limitations/implications
This research highlights the complex relationship between accounting and stigma, suggesting that it is simplistic to examine the nexus between accounting and stigma without considering the social forces in which stigmatisation occurs.

Social implications
This research demonstrates decades of failed accounting have contributed to the ongoing social disadvantage of indigenous Australians. The presence of accounting mechanisms cannot eradicate the past, or fix the present, but can create an environment where financial abuse does not occur.

This research demonstrates that stigma can be exacerbated in the negative space created by failures or absence of accounting.

Indigenous Australians, Stigma, Accounting history, Aborigines, Accounting controls, Stolen wages

Full paper available from the journal


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

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

De-facing power: Towards understanding power in accounting history

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2013). De-facing power: Towards understanding power in accounting history. Paper presented at the 7th Accounting History International Conference, Seville, Spain.


The purpose of this research is to introduce Hayward’s concept of de-facing power to historical accounting research.  The value of de-facing power analysis for historical accounting research is considered in the context of a Catholic school strike that occurred in Goulburn, Australia in 1962.  The strike was a response to a dispute concerning minor building works at a Catholic school in Goulburn but was construed as a battle for government funding of Catholic parochial schools.  We examine the contribution of accounting information to this dispute and demonstrate that historically constructed events determine the application of power in this case rather than the agency of current participants in the dispute.  We conclude that de-facing power is a useful methodological approach for understanding historical accounting research because it forces researchers to consider whether power can be an unintended consequence of circumstance rather than something exercised by those more powerful against those less powerful.

Link to paper

Link to conference