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Memories lost: a history of accounting records as forms of projection

Matringe, Nadia ORCID: 0000-0001-5508-8810 and Power, Michael ORCID: 0000-0001-8148-3953 (2023) Memories lost: a history of accounting records as forms of projection. Accounting, Organizations and Society. p. 101514. ISSN 0361-3682

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.aos.2023.101514


This paper develops a theoretical history of the intricate relationship between accounting as a recording technology and memory, arguing that accounting's influence extends beyond mere financial documentation to shape human memory and projections into the past and the future. Drawing on Stiegler's theory of transindividuation, understood as the trans-formation of individuals, groups and technologies, and his emphasis on technology-mediated memory, we propose that varying types of accounting records cultivate different memory forms by fostering spatiotemporal projections which reshape the societal perception and comprehension of accounting. Our analysis relies on a comparison between two decentralized transaction recording systems similar in their operations, but which emerged in two different eras: blockchain and early double-entry bookkeeping. Our approach draws from Haydu (1998) to identify similarities and contrasts between different periods which can emphasize the uniqueness of each, while conceptualizing long-term trends. By juxtaposing DEB and BC as instances of decentralized records, the study postulates a critical shift in accounting's transindividuation over time. We argue that while DEB's norms of recording aided in the formation of collective memory and long-term projections, turning records into objects of social investment, BC's recording, propelled by automation and an economic emphasis, manifests as an isolated numerical sequence hindering the scope of human projections. We posit that compared to early DEB, BC recording, although it holds the potential for democratization, may lead to divisions between users, among themselves, and with their records. We discuss the potential implications of this trans-dividuation process for notions of accountability, transparency, regulation, and the broader political role of accounting in society.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author(s)
Divisions: Accounting
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
H Social Sciences
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2023 11:12
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2024 07:06

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