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Visualising accounting: an interdisciplinary review and synthesis

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This paper offers the first wide-ranging review and synthesis of visual research in accounting. It aims to shape, order and evaluate the field for the first time. Visual forms are important to accounting because of their power and their ubiquity in an increasingly visual society. Visual forms constitute representation (incremental information) or construction (impression management) or both. The paper defines the visual broadly to include pictures, photographs, film, architecture, diagrams, advertisements and web pages that appear in a wide variety of documentary and geographical locations. It encompasses papers that examine a wide range of issues (from impression management, visual rhetoric, professional identity, gender and diversity to corporate social responsibility, intellectual capital, myth and religion). First is an overview of the ‘visual turn’ in contemporary society, critical thought and accounting. The second part brings together for the first time a wide range of work on the visual in accounting. It gives order by means of a framework constructed from the interdisciplinarity that is fundamental to the field, from arts disciplines, through sociology, to psychology and economics. The third section is an evaluative discussion of the strengths and challenges of the field. Finally, a rich agenda for future research is outlined.
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Keywords: interdisciplinary; method; photograph; review; theory; visual

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Management, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, TW20 OEX, UK

Publication date: February 23, 2015

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