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Article
Publication date: 15 February 2011

Marcia Annisette and Alan J. Richardson

The purpose of this paper is to introduce and illustrate the insights of the sociology of worth as advanced by sociologist Luc Boltanski and his collaborator…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce and illustrate the insights of the sociology of worth as advanced by sociologist Luc Boltanski and his collaborator economist/statistician Laurent Thévenot in their works, including their path‐breaking book De la justification published in 1991.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper explores the basic tenets of this “new sociology” and draws on it to render a reinterpretation of Ansari and Euske's study of cost accounting in a military depot.

Findings

The sociology of worth complements extant sociological approaches to accounting by providing a language and a conceptual tool‐box for understanding the multiple rationalities in which accounting is implicated. In addition, given its pragmatic micro level approach to accounting, it has the potential to act as a bridge between institutional theory and practice theory.

Originality/value

This paper is the first known to render an extensive discussion of Boltanski and Thévenot's work in the accounting literature and to apply insights from this work to accounting research.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 24 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 23 July 2021

Agathe Morinière and Irène Georgescu

This study aims to understand whether and how the use of performance measures in the context of healthcare organizations facilitates the dynamics of compromise or whether…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to understand whether and how the use of performance measures in the context of healthcare organizations facilitates the dynamics of compromise or whether it creates moral struggles among a wide variety of actors. It offers novel insights into the concept of hybridity by investigating its underlying moral dimension. Drawing upon the sociology of worth theory (Boltanski and Thévenot, 1991, 2006), this paper examines how actors negotiate and compromise over time concerning issues of justice, involving the use of performance measures on a day-to-day basis.

Design/methodology/approach

The article presents a single case study of a medical unit in a French public hospital. Data were obtained through the ethnographic method, semi-structured interviews and internal financial and accounting documents.

Findings

Unlike earlier accounting studies, the authors analyze whether, and how, accounting, on one hand, contributes to the dynamics of compromise between actors with divergent values that characterize hybrid organizations, and, on the other hand, increases tensions among actors with convergent values involved in caregiving. This offers practical insights into three relational mechanisms underlying the dynamics of compromise and their limits through the time dimension.

Research limitations/implications

The authors use a single case study in a country-specific context.

Practical implications

This study helps managers of healthcare organizations to understand the relationships between the use of performance measures and their impact on the evaluation of worth in practice.

Originality/value

In terms of theoretical contribution, the authors show how the sociology of worth (Boltanski and Thévenot, 1991, 2006) complements the analysis of hybridity and develop an original approach to understanding the ambivalent role of performance measures in bringing together divergent values within French public hospitals.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Book part
Publication date: 1 June 2017

Juliane Reinecke, Koen van Bommel and Andre Spicer

How is moral legitimacy established in pluralist contexts where multiple moral frameworks co-exist and compete? Situations of moral multiplexity complicate not only…

Abstract

How is moral legitimacy established in pluralist contexts where multiple moral frameworks co-exist and compete? Situations of moral multiplexity complicate not only whether an organization or practice is legitimate but also which criteria should be used to establish moral legitimacy. We argue that moral legitimacy can be thought of as the property of a dynamic dialogical process in which relations between moral schemes are constantly (re-)negotiated through dynamic exchange with audiences. Drawing on Boltanski and Thévenot’s ‘orders of worth’ framework, we propose a process model of how three types of truces may be negotiated: transcendence, compromise, antagonism. While each can create moral legitimacy in pluralistic contexts, legitimacy is not a binary variable but varying in degrees of scope and certainty.

Details

Justification, Evaluation and Critique in the Study of Organizations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-379-1

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Book part
Publication date: 1 June 2017

Marcia Annisette, Gillian Vesty and Thierry Amslem

This article will consider the various ways in which accounting can be conceptualized within Boltanski and Thévenot’s economies of worth theoretic. Drawing on two case…

Abstract

This article will consider the various ways in which accounting can be conceptualized within Boltanski and Thévenot’s economies of worth theoretic. Drawing on two case illustrations, a not-for-profit welfare agency and a government-owned water utility, we follow the unfolding of disputes and the variety of outcomes in which accounting is implicated. We illustrate the role of accounting in justificatory actions and the ways in which it “holds things together” in compromise arrangements. We also illustrate the situations which challenge the “test” of worth and the innovative accounting responses that either facilitate coordination and agreement or become controversial and be the object of organizational and institutional dispute.

Details

Justification, Evaluation and Critique in the Study of Organizations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-379-1

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Book part
Publication date: 1 June 2017

Stéphane Jaumier, Thibault Daudigeos and Vassili Joannidès de Lautour

The purpose of our article is to contribute to the further understanding of individual responses to pluralism, by studying in particular the role played by critiques and…

Abstract

The purpose of our article is to contribute to the further understanding of individual responses to pluralism, by studying in particular the role played by critiques and compromises in the formulation of such responses. Drawing on theoretical insights from the sociology of conventions, we look at the various modes of justification publicly advanced by French co-operators when engaging with co-operative principles. Our analysis allows us to identify three main instantiations, that is situated and flexible enactments, of these principles: pragmatic, reformist, and political. Our contribution to the understanding of pluralism and its instantiations by organizational members is threefold. First, in contrast with studies drawing on an institutional-logics perspective, our study shows that individual instantiations of pluralism rely not only on positive affirmations of logics but also on critical mobilizations of competing logics. Second, our study shows that pluralism can be understood not only as co-existing multiple logics, but also as different possible instantiations of the same logic, the ambiguity of which allows compromises to be settled with other logics. Third, we suggest that organizational members’ responses to pluralism often involve more than two logics, which are combined into a complex set of interdependent judgments. In addition, in relation to co-operative studies, our proposed typology provides a mapping that usefully extends the range of possibilities found in co-operators’ instantiations of co-operative principles, thus furthering our understanding of the diversity of the co-operative movement.

Details

Justification, Evaluation and Critique in the Study of Organizations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-379-1

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Article
Publication date: 17 September 2019

Peter Skilling and Helen Tregidga

The purpose of this paper is to analyse justifications for, and accounting’s role in, arguments for and against the living wage.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse justifications for, and accounting’s role in, arguments for and against the living wage.

Design/methodology/approach

A systematic content analysis of arguments made for and against the living wage in a range of secondary data sources is conducted. Boltanski and Thévenot’s typology of “orders of worth” provides the framework for analysis.

Findings

Arguments for a living wage are found to draw on a range of orders of worth. These arguments hold that while market signals have a valid role in informing wage decisions, such decisions should also take into account the civic order’s emphasis on collective outcomes, the industrial order’s emphasis on long-term organisational performance, and an emphasis on the inherent dignity of the human worker drawn from the domestic and inspired orders. Business arguments against a living wage hold that the current weight given to the tests and objectives of the market order is optimal and that a living wage would undermine firm competitiveness and, ultimately, collective well-being. Justifications of existing low-wage practices are shown to be reflected in, and naturalised by, accounting discourses and practices.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the emergent literature on the relationship between accounting and inequality. It elucidates accounting’s role in supporting the market order of worth and thus the stabilisation and perpetuation of income inequalities. Its analysis of the orders of worth invoked by those calling for a living wage contribute to the task of imagining and constructing an alternative, more equitable, accounting discourse and practice.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Book part
Publication date: 24 March 2021

Stéphane Jaumier and Thibault Daudigeos

Past research on collectivist-democratic organizations has attributed their distinctiveness to their socio-political goals and democratic decision-making and largely…

Abstract

Past research on collectivist-democratic organizations has attributed their distinctiveness to their socio-political goals and democratic decision-making and largely ignored their work processes. This ethnographic study examines how such organizations resist alienating forms of work even in the face of direct competition with for-profit companies. It focuses on Scopix, a French cooperative sheet-metal factory where the first author spent one year as a shop-floor worker. Cooperators there developed various practices to retain an emancipatory dimension to their work, regularly putting forward “craft ethics” as a counterweight to the sheet-metal industry’s drive to rationalize work processes. Drawing on the sociology of worth, the authors analyze how these practices emerged from the arrangements that workers made between the industrial world on the one side and the domestic and inspired worlds on the other. This study contributes to the literature into two main ways. First, the authors refine the sociology-of-worth framework by conceptualizing the emancipatory dimension of work as the result of ad hoc arrangements between different worlds. Second, the authors highlight the need for the literature on collectivist-democratic organizations to increase its focus on work, introducing the concept of work degeneration as a step in that direction.

Details

Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-989-7

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Article
Publication date: 15 January 2018

Stephanie Perkiss and Lee Moerman

The purpose of this paper is to present a forward-looking case of climate change induced displacement in the Pacific Islands as a multidimensional phenomenon with a moral…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a forward-looking case of climate change induced displacement in the Pacific Islands as a multidimensional phenomenon with a moral dimension. Instead of seeking to provide a definitive solution to an imagined problem, the authors have identified the complexity of the situation through an exploration of the accounts of place and accountability for the consequences of displacement.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper explores displacement from a sociological perspective. The authors use the sociology of worth (SOW) to anchor explicit and competing moral claims in an evaluation regime that considers questions of justice and the common good. The public accounts of place in the Pacific Islands provide the empirical material for a consideration of a situated crisis. While SOW is generally adopted for current crises or disputes, this study explores the pre-immigrant story and a future case of displacement. Bauman’s (1998, 2012) perspective on globalization is used to narrate the local conditions of place in a global context as reflective of a dominant social order.

Findings

Since place is a multidimensional concept and experienced according to various states of being including physical, functional, spiritual and emotion or feeling, displacement is also felt at a multidimensional level. Thus to provide an account of a lived experience and to foster a moral accountability for climate induced displacement requires a consideration of multiple accounts and compromises that need to be considered.

Research limitations/implications

As with the majority of accounting research that is concerned with the suffering of those at a distance, we too must tackle this conundrum in a meaningful way. As members of a society that is the largest per capita emitter of greenhouse gas, how do we speak for our drowning neighbors? The paper concludes with some insights from Boltanski (1999) as a way forward.

Originality/value

The paper presents a forward-looking scenario of a looming crisis from a sociological perspective. It adds to the literature on alternative accounts by using stories, media, government reports and other sources to holistically build a narrative grounded in a current and imaged social order.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 31 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 27 August 2014

Koen van Bommel

The purpose of this paper is to examine the multiplicity of views on integrated reporting and to consider the possibility of, and impediments to, reconciling these…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the multiplicity of views on integrated reporting and to consider the possibility of, and impediments to, reconciling these multiple rationales (“orders of worth”) and thus gain legitimacy through a compromise. This sheds light on the understanding of integrated reporting as such, as well as shows how legitimacy struggles are resolved in practice around complex accounting practices in heterogeneous environments.

Design/methodology/approach

This explorative paper empirically applies Boltanski and Thévenot's sociology of worth (SOW) framework to analyse integrated reporting in the Dutch reporting field. Data were collected using multiple methods, including 64 semi-structured in-depth interviews with a wide range of relevant actors, and documentary analysis. Data were coded for the presence of orders of worth and legitimating compromise mechanisms.

Findings

The author's analysis suggests that integrated reporting combines the disparate domains of industrial, market, civic and green order of worth. These different logics of valuation need to be reconciled in a compromise in order for integrated reporting to become a legitimate practice. Such a compromise requires a common interest, avoidance of clarification and maintenance of ambiguity. The author's analysis suggests these mechanisms are violated though, with the risk that integrated reporting gets captured by investors and accountants, leading to local private arrangements rather than durable legitimate compromise.

Research limitations/implications

First, SOW informs the understanding of integrated reporting. It highlights in particular its fragility as fundamentally different rationales need to be reconciled, which is a challenge yet also gives rise to creative frictions. Second, the SOW framework creates the possibility for scholars to look closer at the dynamics of legitimacy and at the possible mechanisms to attain legitimacy in fragmented and heterogeneous environment.

Practical implications

The SOW framework offers tools for practitioners, in particular those working within a pluralistic context. The various mechanisms of compromise discussed in this paper provide practical guidelines for how to manage this complexity and gain or maintain legitimacy.

Originality/value

This rich empirical study combines a novel theoretical approach (the SOW framework) with an analysis of the relatively unexplored topic of integrated reporting. At the same time it introduces a conceptualisation of legitimacy that highlights communicative and constitutive dialogue and goes beyond fit and compliance.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 27 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 10 July 2021

Carlos Noronha, Jieqi Guan and Sandy Hou In Sio

While the COVID-19 virus has been spreading worldwide, some studies have related the pandemic with various aspects of accounting and therefore emphasized the importance of

Abstract

Purpose

While the COVID-19 virus has been spreading worldwide, some studies have related the pandemic with various aspects of accounting and therefore emphasized the importance of accounting research in understanding the impact of COVID-19 on society as a whole. Recent studies have looked into such an impact on various industries such as retail and agriculture. The current study aims at applying a sociological framework, sociology of worth (SOW), to the gaming industry in Macau, the largest operator of state-allowed gambling and entertainment in China, which will allow for its development during the COVID-19 pandemic to be charted.

Design/methodology/approach

The study uses the theory of SOW as a framework and collects data from various sources, such as the government, gaming operators and the public, to create timelines and SOW frameworks to analyze the impact of the virus on the gaming industry and the society as a whole.

Findings

Detailed content analysis and the creation of different SOW matrices determined that the notion of a “lonely economy” during a time of a critical event may be ameliorated in the long term through compromises of the different worlds and actors of the SOW.

Practical implications

Though largely theory-based, this study offers a thorough account of the COVID-19 incident for both the government and the gaming industry to reflect on and to consider new ways to fight against degrowth caused by disasters or crises.

Social implications

The SOW framework divides society into different worlds of different worths. The current study shows how the worths of the different worlds are congruent during normal periods, and how cracks appear between them when a sudden crisis, such as COVID-19, occurs. The article serves as a social account of how these cracks are formed and how could they be resolved through compromise and reconstruction.

Originality/value

This study is a first attempt to apply SOW to a controversial industry (gaming) while the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are ongoing. It offers a significant contribution to the social accounting literature through its consideration of the combination of unprecedented factors in a well-timed study that pays close attention to analyses and theoretical elaboration.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

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