The Emancipatory Potential of Counter Accounting: A Žižekian Critique

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Today, we face a climate emergency that threatens the future of all life on earth. We live in societies scarred by deep and longstanding inequalities in power and wealth, and further fractured along lines of class, race, gender, sexuality, and nationality. In this turbulent context we must reflect as a community of critical researchers as to what role can we play in bringing about more just societies. Much of the critical accounting community is now invested in exploring how accounting itself might bring about change through “emancipatory” accounting ideas and technologies. A practice that is stimulating great interest within this project is counter accounting. Giving balance to a literature that has focused on articulating the emancipatory potential of counter accounting, in this paper I examine its emancipatory limits. Drawing on Žižek’s theory of ideology, I put forward a critique of the potential for counter accounting to affect transformative change. I argue that its reliance on an epistemological awakening as a catalyst for progressive change is based on a formulation of ideology critique and its effects that cannot be maintained.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102505
JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
Early online date8 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


  • Counter accounting
  • Žižek
  • Ideology
  • Emancipatory accounting


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