Govern(mentality) and accounting: the influence of different enlightenment discourses in two spanish cases (1761–1777)
Abstract:New perspectives in accounting history have uncovered previously unattended relations between accounting and government. Earlier Foucauldian analyses of governments have not explained sufficiently the relations of accounting practices to governmental discourses in order to manage populations.
This work uses the governmentality frame to analyse the role of accounting in two organizations located in the south of Spain in the second half of the eighteenth century: the New Settlements of Sierra Morena and Andalucia (NSs) and the Royal Tobacco Factory of Seville (RTFS). The period studied is remarkable because it was the apogee of the Enlightenment in Spain. From the standpoint of government, this period facilitated a new way to manage populations. The present work has drawn on Foucault's concept of governmentality in order to discover how accounting worked in two government-supported organizations independently of the discourses that pervaded each one. Drawing on the reticulation of the space, the use of rules and accounting from the governmental perspective, we analyse those institutions.
The article concludes that the reticulation of space is an essential apparatus to exert action at a distance; the rules are a type of government technology; and, overall, accounting is a practice for the mastery of the population independently from the discourse of the institution.