Accounting and rural rehabilitation in New Deal America

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Abstract / Description of output

The enabling potential of accounting is explored through an investigation of practices attending the rural rehabilitation program in 1930s USA. The paper examines the attempts of a progressive government agency to encourage the adoption of accounting on a substantial scale through ‘supervised credit’. This episode is analysed by reference to concepts of supervision derived from the work of theorists such as Foucault and Giddens. The accounting techniques applied by rural families under supervision are discussed and their rehabilitative impacts assessed at the levels of the objectified population and its individuated subjects. It is shown that accounting featured prominently, at diverse levels of government, in what has been identified as the most significant attempt to address rural poverty in American history. While the educative functioning of supervised accounting had facilitative and enabling effects, its administrative functioning was surveillant, controlling and directing of those targeted for intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-235
Number of pages27
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
Issue number3
Early online date26 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


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