This paper illuminates how a journal and its editor can initiate and foster a stream of high quality and influential research in a novel area. It does this by analysing Accounting, Organizations and Society's (AOS's) and Anthony Hopwood's nurturing of research into key aspects of accounting for social sustainability for several decades before this research area became established. Our discussion unveils how the initiation of unique research areas may initially involve the publication of risky papers driven primarily by passion. Through the steering of a journal editor, subsequent work can proceed to combine this passion with academic rigour and produce research insights that can benefit society by positively influencing policy and practice. It is this attention to rigour that we argue needs to be central to future research in accounting for social sustainability (and accounting for sustainability more broadly) if it is to continue producing purposeful knowledge. We offer several substantive directions for future research aimed at producing such knowledge.