Social justice in a cold climate: Could social accounting make a difference?

Ball, Amanda and Seal, William (2005) Social justice in a cold climate: Could social accounting make a difference? Accounting Forum, 29, (4), 455-473. (doi:10.1016/j.accfor.2005.08.001).


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Building on the argument that justice should be the transcendent principle in accounting, we argue that social accounting invokes notions of community, shared social values, and fairness in the distribution of social resources. These ideas are elaborated in relation to local government, which provides a window on how communities make decisions about distributing their social resources and the accounting processes which guide these decisions. Fieldwork in two large but contrasting English local authorities suggests that the potential of social accounting is not reflected in the predominant accounting systems in local government organisations, but in more subtle and successful forms of ‘enacted social accounting’. Its utility relates to the achievement of short-term social goals where social injustices persist and accountants, managers and politicians seek to accommodate financial pressures to protect the most vulnerable members of the community. We identify local government accountants as morally responsible for the further development of social accounting which envisions a future for local government, and establishes links between social justice, environmentalism and localism.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1016/j.accfor.2005.08.001
ISSNs: 0155-9982 (print)
1467-6303 (electronic)
Keywords: social accounting, public sector, local government, justice, fairness
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Management
ePrint ID: 182623
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
December 2005Published
Date Deposited: 18 May 2011 14:41
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:36

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