Tag Archives: Shell shock

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

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

The purgatorial shadows of war: Accounting, blame and shell shock pensions 1914-23

Miley, F.M. & Read, A.F. (2015). The purgatorial shadows of war: Accounting, blame and shell shock pensions 1914-23. Paper presented at eighth Accounting History International Conference, Ballarat.

Abstract: This research is a qualitative analysis of the role of accounting in British disablement pensions awarded to men who sustained shell shock during their Army service in the First World War. It suggests that accounting classification of shell shock for pension determination purposes supported a view of shell shock which made men with shell shock scapegoats of a system that was often unsupportive. Accounting classification contributed to the lack of support by distancing pension decision-makers from the moral consequences of pension determinations. This was able to occur because the British government used accounting classification as part of a mechanism to avoid blame for its pension determination choices. This research contributes to an ongoing debate about the role of government by suggesting that the functions of government provide opportunities for accounting to simultaneously serve a neutral role as mere inscription while being a social and moral construct.

Paper available through Andrew Read’s ResearchGate page.

“Broken and mad”: Accounting, shell shock and the British Army medical unit 1914-18

Miley, F. M., & Read, A. F. (2015). “Broken and mad”: Accounting, shell shock and the British Army medical unit 1914-18. Paper presented at the 20th Conference on the History of Management and Organisations Lille, France.

Abstract – English

The purpose of this research is to enhance our understanding of the role of accounting in supporting stigma. We use the example of medical management of men with shell shock in British Army casualty clearing hospitals during the First World War. These men were stigmatised by other soldiers and the British Army because of their medical condition. Accounting processes that contributed to the stigmatisation of shell shocked men included initial classification of their medical condition, rigid mechanisms for determining re-supply quantities to casualty clearing hospitals and the additional accounting burden created for medical units when dealing with men with shell shock. Although stigmatisation of soldiers with shell shock was not due to accounting for the medical management of the condition, our analysis indicates that accounting practices in Royal Army Medical Corps casualty clearing stations supported and may have exacerbated the stigmatisation of the shell shocked and may have delayed recovery from shell shock.

Abstract – French

Cette recherche approfondit notre compréhension de la relation entre la comptabilité et la stigmatisation. Nous étudions les hôpitaux militaires britanniques pendant la première guerre mondiale. En particulier, nous étudions la stigmatisation des soldats britanniques en état de commotion. Les processus de la comptabilité militaire ont contribué à leur stigmatisation. Nous concluons que les processus de la comptabilité ont été un facteur important dans l’allongement de la durée de rétablissement des hommes en état de commotion.

Link to paper