Appearance of accounting in a political hegemony

Chandana Gnanapriya Alawattage, D. P. Wickramasinghe

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68 Citations (Scopus)


This paper addresses an empirical issue: the non-constitutive role of accounting in a political hegemony. An 11-month fieldwork in Sri Lankan tea plantations shows how labour control is manifested in a complex historical and socio-political context which gave shape to a political hegemony infusing economic enterprise, civil society and the political state to blur the boundaries of organisation hierarchy. The managerial rationales of accounting have been subsumed by the rationales of a political hegemony and, in turn, the roles of accounting have been confined, on the one hand, to the reproduction and representation of everyday practices of ‘the nature of tea-making’ and their hegemonic control and, on the other hand, to information processing for financial control and external reporting. A theoretical framework, drawn on cultural-Marxist discourses on hegemony, explains the emergence and sustenance of political hegemony as the dominant mode of control in Third World enterprises. The framework illustrates that political hegemony constitutes structural and agential hegemonies, and that ensuing hegemonic governance and the mundane of labour controls interact with each other. Having linked the framework with the political history, post-colonial politics and everyday control practices, it illuminates the ways in which accounting appears in a political hegemony. In contrast to Western experience that accounting plays a constitutive role in labour control, we argue that the role accounting has assumed within political hegemonies of the Third World is rather representational and reproductive: it reproduces rather than constitutes the constitutive role of the political hegemony by representing it as a calculated ‘truth’ or a ‘nature’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-339
Number of pages47
JournalCritical Perspectives On Accounting
Issue number3
Early online date23 Oct 2006
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


  • Accounting
  • Hegemony
  • Civil society
  • Labour control
  • Third World
  • Sri Lanka
  • Colonialism
  • Postcolonial politics
  • Gramsci


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