Reversed Accounting: Legal Professionals, Families and the Gender Wealth Gap in France
Bessière, Céline (2022), Reversed Accounting: Legal Professionals, Families and the Gender Wealth Gap in France, Socio-Economic Review, 20, 1, p. 233-256. 10.1093/ser/mwz036
TypeArticle accepté pour publication ou publié
Journal nameSocio-Economic Review
Oxford University Press
MetadataShow full item record
Abstract (EN)This article describes how legal professionals and families contribute to the widening, legitimation and concealment of the gender wealth gap. It is based on ethnographic observation, study of legal files and statistical data on gender wealth inequality in France. Despite formally equal law, family wealth arrangements in moments of estate planning and marital breakdown tend to reproduce gender inequality. The main legal professionals involved are lawyers and notaries. In their interactions with family members, they carry out reversed accounting, a logic of practice in which the result comes first and computation comes after. As families and legal professionals strive to preserve real estate and businesses, or to minimize taxes, they produce inventories, estimations and distributions of assets which disadvantage women, even though shares appear to be formally equal. Female legal professionals, as well as female clients, may endorse this concern, and thus, also unwittingly contribute to the gender wealth gap.
Subjects / Keywordsgender inequality; wealth; family; accounting; law; France
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