Methodological issues: the use of critical ethnography as an active research methodology

Colin Dey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    47 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Ethnography has emerged as a potentially valuable empirical means of understanding how and why accounting operates within organisations. However, its use in the accounting literature has not been without controversy. This paper addresses one of the key issues of dispute: the role of critical foundational theories in ethnographic accounting research. First, the paper draws from competing proposals for ethnography in the accounting literature in an attempt to shed further light on the use of critical theory within an ethnographic field study. It is argued that critical theory can be a valuable tool in developing further insights from ethnographic study, but that its timing within the stages of the empirical work is crucial to achieve a balance between understanding and explanation. Second, in highlighting the lessons learnt from the author's own ethnographic research, the paper discusses the (as yet untapped) potential for critical ethnography to inform directly the design and development of new accounting systems. It is proposed that using ethnography "actively" in this way could provide the methodological basis for the development of new forms of accounting, such as social accounting.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)106-121
    Number of pages16
    JournalAccounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
    Volume15
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2002

    Fingerprint

    Ethnography
    Critical theory
    Field study
    Accounting research
    Social accounting
    Dispute
    Accounting systems
    Design and development

    Keywords

    • Accounting research
    • Ethnography
    • Methodology
    • Social accounting

    Cite this

    @article{03d51558ee174ea5bd6f15a27ddbf1cd,
    title = "Methodological issues: the use of critical ethnography as an active research methodology",
    abstract = "Ethnography has emerged as a potentially valuable empirical means of understanding how and why accounting operates within organisations. However, its use in the accounting literature has not been without controversy. This paper addresses one of the key issues of dispute: the role of critical foundational theories in ethnographic accounting research. First, the paper draws from competing proposals for ethnography in the accounting literature in an attempt to shed further light on the use of critical theory within an ethnographic field study. It is argued that critical theory can be a valuable tool in developing further insights from ethnographic study, but that its timing within the stages of the empirical work is crucial to achieve a balance between understanding and explanation. Second, in highlighting the lessons learnt from the author's own ethnographic research, the paper discusses the (as yet untapped) potential for critical ethnography to inform directly the design and development of new accounting systems. It is proposed that using ethnography {"}actively{"} in this way could provide the methodological basis for the development of new forms of accounting, such as social accounting.",
    keywords = "Accounting research, Ethnography, Methodology, Social accounting",
    author = "Colin Dey",
    note = "dc.publisher: Emerald Thanks also to Traidcraft, plc, ESRC, The Carnegie Trust, ACCA, Journal of Applied Accounting Research and the University of Dundee for financial support.",
    year = "2002",
    doi = "10.1108/09513570210418923",
    language = "English",
    volume = "15",
    pages = "106--121",
    journal = "Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal",
    issn = "0951-3574",
    publisher = "Emerald",
    number = "1",

    }

    Methodological issues: the use of critical ethnography as an active research methodology. / Dey, Colin.

    In: Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2002, p. 106-121.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Methodological issues: the use of critical ethnography as an active research methodology

    AU - Dey, Colin

    N1 - dc.publisher: Emerald Thanks also to Traidcraft, plc, ESRC, The Carnegie Trust, ACCA, Journal of Applied Accounting Research and the University of Dundee for financial support.

    PY - 2002

    Y1 - 2002

    N2 - Ethnography has emerged as a potentially valuable empirical means of understanding how and why accounting operates within organisations. However, its use in the accounting literature has not been without controversy. This paper addresses one of the key issues of dispute: the role of critical foundational theories in ethnographic accounting research. First, the paper draws from competing proposals for ethnography in the accounting literature in an attempt to shed further light on the use of critical theory within an ethnographic field study. It is argued that critical theory can be a valuable tool in developing further insights from ethnographic study, but that its timing within the stages of the empirical work is crucial to achieve a balance between understanding and explanation. Second, in highlighting the lessons learnt from the author's own ethnographic research, the paper discusses the (as yet untapped) potential for critical ethnography to inform directly the design and development of new accounting systems. It is proposed that using ethnography "actively" in this way could provide the methodological basis for the development of new forms of accounting, such as social accounting.

    AB - Ethnography has emerged as a potentially valuable empirical means of understanding how and why accounting operates within organisations. However, its use in the accounting literature has not been without controversy. This paper addresses one of the key issues of dispute: the role of critical foundational theories in ethnographic accounting research. First, the paper draws from competing proposals for ethnography in the accounting literature in an attempt to shed further light on the use of critical theory within an ethnographic field study. It is argued that critical theory can be a valuable tool in developing further insights from ethnographic study, but that its timing within the stages of the empirical work is crucial to achieve a balance between understanding and explanation. Second, in highlighting the lessons learnt from the author's own ethnographic research, the paper discusses the (as yet untapped) potential for critical ethnography to inform directly the design and development of new accounting systems. It is proposed that using ethnography "actively" in this way could provide the methodological basis for the development of new forms of accounting, such as social accounting.

    KW - Accounting research

    KW - Ethnography

    KW - Methodology

    KW - Social accounting

    U2 - 10.1108/09513570210418923

    DO - 10.1108/09513570210418923

    M3 - Article

    VL - 15

    SP - 106

    EP - 121

    JO - Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

    JF - Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

    SN - 0951-3574

    IS - 1

    ER -