This chapter is a speculative examination of the way in which theory is used in the social accounting literature. It is intended as an initial guide for those approaching the area for the first time; it is intended as a map for those in the field who would like to adopt a bigger picture for their work and it is intended as a wake-up call to those of us stuck in unconscious ruts. The chapter's departure point is the recognition that social accounting requires a reasonably sophisticated awareness of theory – not least because the subject matter itself is so contentious and conditional. The chapter's ambitions are to encourage a more evaluative and policy-based approach to the subject matter of social accounting; to offer a pedagogic basis to help others make some sense of theory in social accounting and to seek to empower and liberate social accounting scholars by assisting the range of their theorising. Social accounting scholars tend to approach the area with concerns and desires for liberation and possibility. Theory can help articulate those concerns and can support and encourage that desire. Above all, the chapter is explicitly partial, speculative and tentative, and it is not a formal or informed attempt to produce a theory of theories in social accounting. To articulate a range of the possible theories, we offer a simple heuristic through which we may navigate our way through the soup of concepts and perceptions that can blend into a potential infinity of ways of looking and seeing. We hope to encourage diversity and speculation rather than narrowness and alleged certainty.
Gray, R., Owen, D. and Adams, C. (2009), "Some theories for social accounting?: A review essay and a tentative pedagogic categorisation of theorisations around social accounting", Freedman, M. and Jaggi, B. (Ed.) Sustainability, Environmental Performance and Disclosures (Advances in Environmental Accounting & Management, Vol. 4), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 1-54. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-3598(2010)0000004005
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