In Search of Consensus: How Accountants Enforce Legitimate Definitions to Establish and Reproduce Symbolic Domination
Farjaudon, Anne-Laure; Morales, Jérémy (2011), In Search of Consensus: How Accountants Enforce Legitimate Definitions to Establish and Reproduce Symbolic Domination, Critical Perspectives on Accounting Conference, 2011-07, Floride, États-Unis
TypeCommunication / Conférence
Conference titleCritical Perspectives on Accounting Conference
MetadataShow full item record
Abstract (EN)Managerial discourses often claim that rational decision making rests on reaching a “consensus”. However, more than any democratic confrontation between vantage points, this quest for consensus constitutes a way to deny conflicts and asymmetries in positions of power, i.e., to promote dominating interests (and to silence others) as if they were collective and neutral, thus increasing their legitimacy by creating an illusion of participation. We draw on Bourdieu’s conceptualisation of “symbolic domination” to better understand how powerful groups manage to maintain their dominating position while avoiding criticism and contestation by others. We conducted a monographic field study within a company whose strategy and management are largely based on marketing issues, and notably on the concept of “brand”. We analyse how accountants associate a financial measure with this concept whereby they appropriate for themselves the power to name capital, i.e., to designate what kind of stakes are worth pursuing and how resources can be accumulated. This changes what is and is not valued by organisational participants, thereby modifying their ability to follow legitimate strategies. However, this evolution does not trigger any conflict or resistance from those individuals who lose symbolic capital. We therefore do not focus our analysis on the process of change but, rather, on how accounting is used by one influential group to ensure the reproduction of the conditions for its domination and to monopolise the power to name capital.
Subjects / Keywordssymbolic domination; capital; consensus; brand valuation
JELM41 - Accounting
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