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Article
Publication date: 1 April 2005

Les Hardy and Harry Ballis

This paper offers a critique of the sacred and secular dichotomy, a theoretical framework recently introduced into the accounting and accountability literature primarily…

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper offers a critique of the sacred and secular dichotomy, a theoretical framework recently introduced into the accounting and accountability literature primarily by Laughlin and Booth. The divide has been used to interpret the ambiguous roles of accountants and accounting practices within religious organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

The present paper examines the divide by drawing on H. Richard Niebuhr's narrative theology, and in particular, the distinction that he draws between “internal history” and “external history”. Niebuhr's discussion of internal/external history and his typology of social action are used to demonstrate the many ways that religious communities balance faith and social practice.

Findings

The paper argues that the activities and contributions of accountants and accounting practices are not by virtue of their secularity antithetical to the values of religious organizations. It contends that within many religious settings, secular activities, such as accounting, often co‐exist, promote and are used to support religious beliefs and practices.

Research limitations/implications

The paper challenges the dominant paradigm by highlighting the importance of adopting flexible theoretical frameworks.

Originality/value

It will be of value to accounting and accountability researchers who are seeking to gain a better understanding of the fit between accounting practices and the internal histories of religions.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 18 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 9 March 2015

Banu Özkazanç-Pan

This paper aims to highlight secular and Islamic feminist approaches to entrepreneurship as potential means to challenge gender inequality in the Turkish context. In…

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2462

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to highlight secular and Islamic feminist approaches to entrepreneurship as potential means to challenge gender inequality in the Turkish context. In Turkey, gender equality remains elusive in a nation where secular and Islamic ideologies compete and produce different solutions to ongoing economic, socio-cultural and political issues. Women’s entrepreneurship has emerged as an important solution toward gender equality and economic development.

Design/methodology/approach

Using two women’s organizations that exemplify secular and Islamic feminist ideologies, the author examines whether the entrepreneurship activities they promote give way to challenging patriarchal norms, values and practices widespread in Turkish society.

Findings

Through their distinct practices and engagement with entrepreneurship, both secular and Islamic feminist positions allow for praxis and represent an ethico-political commitment to dismantling neo-liberal development ideologies in the Turkish context that perpetuate gender inequality.

Social implications

Secular and Islamic feminist practices and entrepreneurship practices have different implications for achieving gender equality including changes in gender norms, economic development policies and women’s empowerment in a Muslim-majority country. In addition, it raises questions around the popular notion of “entrepreneurship as women’s empowerment”.

Originality/value

This paper is of value to scholars who want to understand secular and Islamic feminisms and their implications for challenging gender inequality. The Turkish context with its traditional and modern societal norms and values provides a rich case study to examine these issues through the exemplars of entrepreneurship. It is also of value to scholars who want to understand structural constraints associated with gender equality beyond individual-level challenges.

Details

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, vol. 7 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1756-6266

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Article
Publication date: 13 June 2017

John Frame

Faith-based organisations (FBOs) and secular NGOs provide important services to victims of trafficking, exploitation, and those involved in sex work, yet comparative…

Abstract

Purpose

Faith-based organisations (FBOs) and secular NGOs provide important services to victims of trafficking, exploitation, and those involved in sex work, yet comparative analysis of their approaches to care has lacked attention in the literature. The purpose of this paper is to examine these two types of organisations, exploring the extent to which faith influences the ways FBOs work with their clients.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 41 interviews were conducted with leaders of 13 Christian FBOs and 12 secular NGOs in Cambodia, and organisational mission statements were reviewed. An input-output conceptual model was used as a framework to gather and analyse data.

Findings

While all FBOs maintained a high regard for their clients’ spiritual needs and operated with a faith-related approach to care, secular NGOs also, at times, included culturally embedded religious elements into their programming. The nature of FBOs’ faith-related programming, however, clearly distinguished these organisations from their secular counterparts. Despite such distinctions, similarities were maintained among both types of organisations in the behavioural or recovery outcomes they sought in their clients.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations include the study’s focus on organisations that serve a specific clientele in one development context. Research implications include the study pointing to the necessity of acknowledging the development context as critical to the ways in which religion may or may not influence the approaches to care of both FBOs and secular NGOs. The paper also contributes insight into the relationship between the non-resource input of faith, and services provided by FBOs.

Practical implications

Given that both types of organisations sought change in their clients, practitioners should ensure that their organisational approaches to care are conducive to the outcomes they seek. Though organisational policy may stipulate that clients are free to choose whether or not to participate in faith-related programming, FBOs should always ensure a care environment in which clients feel free not to participate in such programming.

Originality/value

Though FBOs and secular NGOs sought many similar behavioural or recovery outcomes from their clients, the development context in which these organisations worked – unlike some other contexts – and the role of faith “infusing” FBOs, led to clear, observable differences in their approaches to care. The study highlights the importance of taking into account these factors when seeking to decipher differences that may or may not exist between faith-based and secular non-state social policy actors.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 37 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Book part
Publication date: 22 November 2016

Justin Cruickshank

In this paper I argue that the liberal problem of religion, which defines religion in terms of dogmatism or opaque justifications based on ‘revealed truth’, needs to be…

Abstract

Purpose

In this paper I argue that the liberal problem of religion, which defines religion in terms of dogmatism or opaque justifications based on ‘revealed truth’, needs to be rethought as part of a broader problem of dialogue, which does not define religion as uniquely problematic.

Methodology/approach

Habermas argues for religious positions to be translated into ‘generally accessible language’ to incorporate religious citizens into democratic dialogue and resist the domination of instrumental rationality by enhancing ‘solidarity’. I contrast this with Rowan Williams’ and Gadamer’s work.

Findings

Williams conceptualises religion in terms of recognising the finitude of our being, rather than dogmatism or opacity. This recognition, he argues, allows people to transcend the ‘imaginative bereavement’ of seeing others as means. Using Williams, I argue that Habermas misdefines religion, and reinforces the domination of instrumental rationality by treating religion as a means. I then use Gadamer to argue that the points Williams makes about religion can apply to secular positions too by recognising them as traditions subject to finitude.

Originality/value

This is original because it argues that the liberal problem of religion misdefines both religion and secular positions, by not recognising that both are traditions defined by finitude. To reach, dialogically, a ‘fusion of horizons’, where religious and secular people are understood non-instrumentally in their own terms of reference, will take time and not trade on immediately manifest – ‘generally accessible’ – meanings.

Details

Reconstructing Social Theory, History and Practice
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-469-3

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 2005

Kerry Jacobs

This paper explores the role of accounting in a religious setting and evaluates the sacred‐secular divide developed by Laughlin and Booth who suggested that accounting is…

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6896

Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores the role of accounting in a religious setting and evaluates the sacred‐secular divide developed by Laughlin and Booth who suggested that accounting is antithetical to religious values, embodying the secular as opposed to the sacred. Yet Christian thinkers such as Wesley and Neibuhr reject this position and indicate the accounting and financial issues do not necessarily conflict with religious values.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper explores narratives drawn from the Church of Scotland, the life and practices of Charles Wesley and the Christian doctrine of stewardship as a way of determining the verisimilitude of the “accounting as secular” claim.

Findings

These accounts and individual perceptions drawn from the Church of Scotland were more consistent with the concept of a jurisdictional conflict between accountants and clergy than a sacred‐secular divide. The life of John Wesley and the doctrine of stewardship show that accounting can be part of practices of spirituality. Sacred or secular accounting was found to be an issue of perception.

Research limitations/implications

There is scope for future research into perceptions of accounting and the role(s) of accounting in sacred spaces.

Originality/value

This paper highlights the sacred role and aspects to accounting.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 18 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 11 September 2017

Yan Li

The purpose of this paper is to examine whether people who engage in religious activities are more generous in terms of both religious and secular giving.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine whether people who engage in religious activities are more generous in terms of both religious and secular giving.

Design/methodology/approach

Bivariate probit (BVP) and bivariate tobit (BVT) analyses show that religious people have a greater propensity to give and higher levels of giving to both religious and secular charitable organizations. The bivariate systems permit a test of the correlation across the different giving decisions, and the correlation between religious and secular giving is found to be highly significant.

Findings

Religiosity positively influences both religious and secular donations. After controlling for this correlation, the impacts of religiosity on religious and secular giving are more efficient estimates but smaller than expected.

Originality/value

As a result of these methodological shortcomings, the causal relationship between religiosity and charitable giving is far from clear. To overcome those problems, this study uses BVP and BVT models to control for the potential correlation between religious giving and secular giving by the same individual and then draws appropriate interpretations. This study adds a firmer theoretical foundation to the existing literature.

Details

International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 44 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

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Article
Publication date: 15 March 2019

Abeer Allahham

Compared with its status in Islamic history, the mosque today has become a distinctive phenomenon, perceived as an identity vessel of contemporary Islamic architecture…

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1129

Abstract

Purpose

Compared with its status in Islamic history, the mosque today has become a distinctive phenomenon, perceived as an identity vessel of contemporary Islamic architecture that conveys sacred metaphysical meanings. Since the advent of modernity Muslim societies has become increasingly secularized; the relationships of the sacred–secular and the divine-based demythologized knowledge have been deformed. The mosque was glossed over as the sole contemporary sacred edifice that bears metaphysical/Islamic connotations with cultural continuity. Its architecture, meanings and function have gone through a process of metamorphosis, particularly the state mosques. The contemporary mosque as such is facing a “semiological deterioration.” State mosques today are symbolic statements and communicative messages of their rulers’ power and national sovereignty, with a subsidiary role for worship, i.e., the sacred has turned into a secular power metaphor. This led to a state semantic confusion accompanied by a loss in the deeply rooted collective cultural codes of the sacred. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the metamorphosis of the semiological connotation of the contemporary mosque, with a special focus on grand state mosques, and its effects on the architecture of the contemporary mosque.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is theoretical research (no case studies included).

Findings

The metamorphosis that the contemporary mosque is experiencing today as a religious edifice with symbolic connotations and architectural iconism is but an effect of the changes that occurred in the concept of the scared and its relationship to the secular in contemporary Muslim communities, as a result of modernity. Such conceptual changes led to altering the deeply rooted cultural codes to be replaced by new intentional codes, used today as vehicles of communication in mosque architecture, especially in grand state mosques. Contemporary state mosques with its new symbolism and semantic meanings have contributed to redefining the concept of the contemporary mosque in general.

Originality/value

Mosque architecture today receives a significant importance. Many conferences and awards are dedicated to celebrating this phenomenon. Attempts to define the criteria and style of the contemporary mosque architecture are mounting. However, rarely there are studies that defy such attempts in a critical manner. This research seeks to criticize such approaches by highlighting the essence of the transformation in mosque architecture and its relationship to the concepts of the sacred and the secular, from a semiological perspective.

Details

Archnet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, vol. 13 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2631-6862

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Article
Publication date: 3 May 2013

Michele Bigoni, Enrico Deidda Gagliardo and Warwick Funnell

Informed by the work of Laughlin and Booth, this paper aims to analyze the role of accounting and accountability practices within the fifteenth century Roman Catholic…

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1223

Abstract

Purpose

Informed by the work of Laughlin and Booth, this paper aims to analyze the role of accounting and accountability practices within the fifteenth century Roman Catholic Church, more specifically within the Diocese of Ferrara (northern Italy), in order to determine the presence of a sacred‐secular dichotomy. Pope Eugenius IV had embarked on a comprehensive reform of the Church to counter the spreading moral corruption within the clergy and the subsequent disaffection with the Church by many believers. The reforms were notable not only for the Pope's determination to restore the moral authority and power of the Church, but also for the essential contributions of “profane” financial and accounting practices to the success of the reforms.

Design/methodology/approach

Original fifteenth century Latin documents and account books of the Diocese of Ferrara are used to highlight the link between the new sacred values imposed by Pope Eugenius IV's reforms and accounting and accountability practices.

Findings

The documents reveal that secular accounting and accountability practices were not regarded as necessarily antithetical to religious values, as would be expected by Laughlin and Booth. Instead, they were seen to assume a role which was complementary to the Church's religious mission. Indeed, they were essential to its sacred mission during a period in which the Pope sought to arrest the moral decay of the clergy and reinstate the Church's authority.

Research limitations/implications

The paper shows that the sacred‐secular dichotomy cannot be considered as a priori valid in space and time. There is also scope for examining other Italian dioceses where there was little evidence of Pope Eugenius' reforms.

Originality/value

The paper presents a critique of the sacred‐secular divide paradigm by considering an under‐researched period and a non‐Anglo Saxon context.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 26 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 11 March 2019

Remy Low

Through a political genealogy, the purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how the institutionalisation of the so-called “secular principle” in NSW state schools in the…

Abstract

Purpose

Through a political genealogy, the purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how the institutionalisation of the so-called “secular principle” in NSW state schools in the late-nineteenth century, which is commonly assumed to be a historical moment when religious neutrality was enshrined in public education, was overdetermined by the politics of racialisation and ethno-nationalism.

Design/methodology/approach

The historiographical method used here is labelled “political genealogy”. This approach foregrounds how every social order and norm is contingent on political struggles that have shaped its form over time. This includes foregrounding the acts of exclusion that constitute any social order and norm.

Findings

The secular principle institutionalised in the NSW Public Instruction Act of 1880, far from being the “neutral” solution to sectarian conflict, was in fact a product of anti-Catholic sentiment fuelled by the racialisation of Irish Catholicism and ethno-nationalist anxieties about its presence in the colony.

Originality/value

This paper makes clear that “the secular” in secular schooling is neither a product of historical and moral “progress” from a more “primitive” state to a more progressive one, nor a principle of neutrality that stands outside of particular historical and political relations of power. Thus, it encourages a more pragmatic and supple understanding of “the secular” in education. It also invites both advocates and critics of secular education to adapt their arguments based on changing historical circumstances, and to justify the exclusions that such arguments imply without recourse to transcendent principles.

Details

History of Education Review, vol. 48 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0819-8691

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Book part
Publication date: 10 June 2019

Amira Aftab

Western liberal states are considered to be secular in nature, with a presumed neutrality of state laws from religious values and norms. However, this claim overlooks the…

Abstract

Western liberal states are considered to be secular in nature, with a presumed neutrality of state laws from religious values and norms. However, this claim overlooks the inherent influence that religious groups (namely, dominant Christian churches and groups) have as informal institutions. According to neo-institutionalists, informal institutions, like these religious norms and values, interact with and influence formal state institutions. As such, it could be argued that the norms and values of dominant religious groups within the state have a role in shaping governmental policies and the law. This is evident when examining the debates around multiculturalism and religious freedom that arise in liberal democratic states such as Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom (UK). In particular, the recent Sharia debates that have arisen in each of these jurisdictions illustrate that the secular state legal system is often positioned as “neutral” and free from religious influence – and thus incompatible with, and unable to, accommodate the religious orders of minority groups. However, this idea that the state is entirely free from religious values is a fallacy that ignores the historical role and influence of Christian churches in each state. In opposing the accommodation of Sharia in private dispute resolution, common arguments include the inherent patriarchal nature of the religion leading to further oppression and disadvantage of Muslim women when seeking resolution of personal law matters (i.e. divorce and property settlements). The secular state law is positioned against this (and religion more broadly) as the “fair” and “just” alternative for minority women – protector of individual rights. Though this ignores the inherent gender hierarchies embedded within formal state institutions, including the legal system that has been implicitly shaped by religious moral values to varying degrees – where minority women are also faced with a set of gender biases. When combined with the internal pressures from their communities and families this can often place them in a double-bind of disadvantage. In this paper, I draw on feminist institutionalism to examine the informal institutional norms that arise from dominant Christian churches in Australia, Canada, and the UK. In particular, the ways in which these informal norms have influenced the development of state laws, and continue to operate alongside the legal system to shape and influence governmental policies, laws, and ultimately the outcomes for Muslim women.

Details

Studies in Law, Politics, and Society
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-727-1

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