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We present a critical literature review debating Brazilian research on social and environmental accounting (SEA). The aim of this study is to understand the role of…
We present a critical literature review debating Brazilian research on social and environmental accounting (SEA). The aim of this study is to understand the role of politics in the construction of hegemonies in SEA research in Brazil. In particular, we examine the role of hegemony in relation to the co-option of SEA literature and sustainability in the Brazilian context by the logic of development for economic growth in emerging economies. The methodological approach adopts a post-structural perspective that reflects Laclau and Mouffe’s discourse theory. The study employs a hermeneutical, rhetorical approach to understand and classify 352 Brazilian research articles on SEA. We employ Brown and Fraser’s (2006) categorizations of SEA literature to help in our analysis: the business case, the stakeholder–accountability approach, and the critical case. We argue that the business case is prominent in Brazilian studies. Second-stage analysis suggests that the major themes under discussion include measurement, consulting, and descriptive approach. We argue that these themes illustrate the degree of influence of the hegemonic politics relevant to emerging economics, as these themes predominantly concern economic growth and a capitalist context. This paper discusses trends and practices in the Brazilian literature on SEA and argues that the focus means that SEA avoids critical debates of the role of capitalist logics in an emerging economy concerning sustainability. We urge the Brazilian academy to understand the implications of its reifying agenda and engage, counter-hegemonically, in a social and political agenda beyond the hegemonic support of a particular set of capitalist interests.