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The end of audit. Spectacle and love in the audit society

Lukas Löhlein (Institute of Management Accounting and Control (IMC), WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, Vallendar, Germany)
Christian Huber (Department of Operations Management, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management

ISSN: 1176-6093

Article publication date: 13 July 2022




A total of 25 years of research on the audit society has provided rich and engaging accounts of the ways in which rituals of verification have conditioned organizations and individuals to think and act. In contrast, this paper aims to explore the possibility of conditions through which things and spaces are enacted to be non-auditable.


Using the concept of proliferation and rarefaction (Callon and Law, 2005), the paper adopts a case-comparison design to explore two empirical sites. The first investigates a vast excess of audit structures against the case of the biggest corporate fraud in German accounting history, the Wirecard scandal. The second discusses the configuration of Tinder, the most popular provider of mobile dating and the absence of visible verification mechanisms.


The paper argues that things can become non-auditable through two mechanisms. Based on the two empirical sites, non-auditability can happen through an overload of auditable resources or, through the withdrawal of required resources. The paper discusses the consequences of this finding and suggests avenues for future research on non-auditability.


While accounting scholars have extensively addressed the audit explosion and traced how audit practices have journeyed into ever more novel terrains, this paper discusses forms of escape from the value-subverting and reductive accounts incorporated in the audit society. It thereby points to conditions under which accounting ends.



The authors thank the editors, Lukas Goretzki and Thomas Ahrens, for the opportunity to write this text, and two anonymous reviewers for their feedback.


Löhlein, L. and Huber, C. (2022), "The end of audit. Spectacle and love in the audit society", Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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