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The changing internal market for ethical discourses in the Canadian CA profession

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Starting from the premise that formal ethical codes and other ethical discourses differ in their audiences, effects and characteristics, it is analyzed how practitioner-directed ethical discourses have spoken and continue to speak about character-based ethics. Borrowing from the literature on professions and Pierre Bourdieu's theory of practice, starts from the assumption that editorials in practitioner-oriented publications are a form of cultural good traded on an internal symbolic market. By providing access to symbolic capital, trade in this good acts to bind together members of the accounting profession, yet trade in this good also has the potential to obscure a number of important, underlying social issues. The study is based on a close (textual) reading of editorials in the Canadian Chartered Accountant (subsequently renamed CA Magazine) from 1911 to 1999, and this reading is framed in light of a number of macro-level and meso-level (contextual) changes. It is found that character-based ethical discourses continue to pervade this professional field, though not without important changes which themselves need to be explained in light of the more widespread, non-professional field.

Keywords: Accountants; Canada; Ethics; Professionalism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09513570310464291

Publication date: March 12, 2003

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