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Immigration and neoliberalism: three cases and counter accounts

Cheryl Lehman (Department of Accounting, Taxation and Legal Studies in Business, Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York USA)
Marcia Annisette (Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, Canada)
Gloria Agyemang (School of Management Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, UK)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 18 January 2016




This paper advocates for critical accounting’s contribution to immigration deliberations as part of its agenda for advancing social justice. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate accounting as implicated in immigration policies of three advanced economies.


The authors suggest that neoliberal immigration policies are operationalized through the responsibilization of individuals, corporations and universities. By examining three immigration policies from the USA, Canada and the UK, the paper clarifies how accounting technologies facilitate responsibilization techniques, making immigration governable. Additionally, by employing immigrant narratives as counter accounts, the impacts of immigrant lived experiences can be witnessed.


Accounting upholds neoliberal principles of life by expanding market mentalities and governance, through technologies of measurement, reports, audits and surveillance. A neoliberal strategy of responsibilization contributes to divesting authority for immigration policy in an attempt to erase the social and moral agency of immigrants, with accounting integral to this process. However the social cannot be eradicated as the work illustrates in the narratives and counter accounts that immigrants create.

Research limitations/implications

The work reveals the illusion of accounting as neutral. As no single story captures the nuances and complexities of immigration practices, further exploration is encouraged.


The work is a unique contribution to the underdeveloped study of immigration in critical accounting. By unmasking accounting’s role and revealing techniques underpinning immigration discourses, enhanced ways of researching immigration are possible.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the reviewers, editors, and Hofstra University.


Lehman, C., Annisette, M. and Agyemang, G. (2016), "Immigration and neoliberalism: three cases and counter accounts", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 43-79.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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