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Fashioning the popular masses: accounting as mediator between creativity and control

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Purpose ‐ The paper aims to investigate accounting's role as a mediating instrument between the tensions of creativity and control within the price competitive world of the fashion chain store. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper employs a case study approach, gathering interview data from key members within a UK fashion chain, and uses Goffman's work on impression management to inform its theoretical argumentation. Findings ‐ Drawing on Goffman, the paper considers the roles adopted by organizational actors within fashion retailing and the actions they pursue in order to maintain a team performance. The authors suggest that accounting, as a form of stage prop, helps to sustain this team impression by mediating between the creativity and control concerns inherent in fashion design. In the process, they also gain some understanding of the use of accounting by actors beyond the confines of an organization's finance function. Originality/value ‐ Despite the magnitude of the fashion industry and its dominance in the identity construction of both individual and streetscape, the role of accounting within this domain of popular culture has remained remarkably unexplored. This paper attempts to redress such scholarly neglect. It also furthers an understanding of the relatively unexplored role of accounting as a mediating instrument within the complex dialectic of creativity and control.

Keywords: Accounting and popular culture; Control; Creativity; Fashion; Goffman; Mediating instruments

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2012-05-04

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