قدرتی بیش از توانمندسازی :مواجهه با حسابداری توسعه در یک دهکده ماهیگیری سریلانکا
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|5447||2011||19 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Volume 22, Issue 4, April 2011, Pages 396–414
This paper focuses on poverty alleviation projects in a Sri Lankan village and examines their changing mechanisms of resource allocation, referred to as “development accounting”. Neo-liberal policy on poverty alleviation prescribes a resource allocation mechanism that empowers the rural poor, enabling them to participate in decision-making, local accountability and performance evaluation. We found that, rather than empowering the poor, certain competing structural logics (i.e. development logic versus cultural-political logic) have given rise to some idiosyncrasies in these mechanisms, which disempower the rural poor. This paper benefits from a detailed ethnography enriched by oral cultures and engaged observations in six months of fieldwork followed by a short follow-up study, coupled with authors’ life trajectories and reiterated analyses. Data was iterated with Pierre Bourdieu's concepts of field, capital and habitus, which illustrated how local politics and patronage relations contradict the prescribed mechanism of resource allocation and how, in turn, rural poverty is reproduced.
Accounting research inspired by Bourdieu's practice theory1 is now transcending its infancy (Oakes et al., 1998, Fogarty, 1998, Kurunmaki, 1999a, Kurunmaki, 1999b, Everett, 2003, Everett, 2004, Neu et al., 2003, Goddard, 2004 and Lounsbury, 2008). Critical accounting research benefits much from this research agenda. In the first thoroughgoing accounting study, using Bourdieu's practice theory, Oakes et al. (1998) illustrated how the language (as “instruments of power and action”) of business planning (in the provincial museums and cultural heritage sites of Alberta) manifested symbolic violence, a form of domination inflicting suffering and misery among the dominated. Researchers then proceeded to explore complex relationships between culture and power in relation to accounting, governance and accounting education practices. Consequently, a considerable number of publications appeared in Critical Perspectives on Accounting ( McPhail, 2001, Neu and Heincke, 2004, Gallhofer and Haslam, 2006, Neu and Ocampo, 2007, Murphy, 2008, James, 2008, Boyce, 2008, Oakes and Young, 2010, McPhail et al., 2010, Alawattage, 2011 and Tremblay and Gendron, 2010). Avoiding the pitfalls of structure and agency relations (see Shusterman, 2005), most of these researchers relied on “relational thinking”. They examined how accounting practices related to “structured and structuring structures” and analysed how these “structural logics” were embodied in social agents and mundane accounting practices. This alternative theory of practice illuminated accounting's actual practices in different research sites: “battlefields” where actors compete for their stake. Poverty alleviation in rural villages in LDCs is such a vibrant battlefield, but it has never been a subject of accounting research inspired by Bourdieu's approach, with the exception of the recent work by Alawattage (2011: a study which used Bourdieu to illustrate the connection between calculative practices and the social structure of capital in the gem mining rituals in Sri Lanka. Our paper replicates and extends the work by Alawattage by examining how resource allocation mechanisms in a Sri Lankan fishing village are subsumed under discursive domination, material relations, patronage politics and resultant everyday practices. With or without Bourdieu's approach, accounting researchers have addressed the issue of how power and politics relate to resource allocation mechanisms in organisations (Covaleski and Dirsmith, 1983, Covaleski and Dirsmith, 1986, Macintosh, 1994, Kurunmaki, 1999a, Kurunmaki, 1999b, Everett, 2003 and Neu et al., 2003). However, little is known about how such mechanisms operate in poverty alleviation projects in LDC villagers. A few accounting researchers have examined how village cultures and politics influence organizational budgeting and resource allocation mechanisms (e.g. Wickramasinghe and Hopper, 2005, Jayasinghe and Wickramasinghe, 2006, Alawattage et al., 2007, Alawattage and Wickramasinghe, 2009 and Jayasinghe and Thomas, 2009). However, the issue of how village cultures and politics shape village-level resource allocation mechanisms has been inadvertently neglected. Focusing on the shift of governing mechanisms from a bureaucratic form to a form that appreciates community participation and accountability, this paper addresses this question. Poverty alleviation, as development studies show (see Shaw, 2004), must entail the ideology of empowerment towards establishing entitlements that will allow the poor access to the material and social means to develop their capabilities. Proponents argued that improved access to productive resources by the poor is a crucial element of their empowerment. However, our study shows that the logic of everyday actions within resource allocation processes does not conform to this development ideology. In most ex-British colonies such as Sri Lanka, the orthodox governing mechanism that provided rules, procedures and methodologies for resource allocation was based on a Weberian model of administration that hailed from colonial days (De Silva, 1977). By making the village a governable social space, the central government maintained its authoritative power over villagers to determine how resources are allocated. Respective government agents took actions to render actual allocation possible. Despite the superiority of this legal-rational model, in the postcolonial Sri Lanka, the actual wheels of the governing mechanism were often greased by local politics, through which political power became pre-eminent in the actual processes of resource allocation. For instance, the political party leader in a particular village influenced government bureaucracy to channel certain resources to his or her voters, despite the integrity of this behaviour being problematic. This political culture was deep-rooted at a time when trans-national financial agencies and NGOs began to mobilize their discursive ideologies that promoted community-driven approaches to development (see Fowler, 2000). The 1990s witnessed a stream of new development discourses. Their proponents, such as the World Bank (WB), highlighted the orthodox resource allocation models in LDCs as “ineffective”. Even though the development strategies of the 1940s emphasised resource allocation issues, WB has criticised them for their reliance on modernization and basic need approaches (1945–1984), which did not raise the living standards of the poor (WB: various reports). This was a discovery of poverty as a discourse, which was, according to Escobar (1995, p. 21), observed, this discovery was “relatively inconspicuous and seemingly logical” and provided an “anchor for important restructuring of global culture and political economy”. In this light, the WB encouraged democratic approaches to development that were given suitable institutional environment by the neo-liberal economic and political ideologies of the 1990s (World Bank: various reports). This “discursive shift” called for a transformation in the governance and accountability mechanisms from bureaucratic to more community-driven, participative forms. It was expected that this approach would empower the rural poor to participate in decision-making, local accountability and performance evaluation. Furthermore, the advocators assumed that these “techno-discursive instruments”2 could reduce poverty. Focusing on poverty alleviation projects in a Sri Lankan village, we examined their changing mechanisms of resource allocation, referred to as “development accounting”. We found that the new development discourse promoted and justified interventions, but with unintended consequences. As certain mundane practises were constituted and reproduced within a set of material and discursive relationships, rather than empowering the poor, certain competing structural logics (i.e. development logic versus cultural-political logic) have given rise to certain idiosyncracies in the mechanisms of resource allocation, which disempowered the rural poor. To this end, the paper benefits from a detailed ethnography enriched by oral cultures and engaged observations coupled with authors’ life trajectories and reiterated analyses. Ethnographic access to the fishing village of Kalametiya in Sri Lanka made it possible to conduct six months of fieldwork followed by a short follow-up study. Data was iterated with Pierre Bourdieu's concepts of field, capital and habitus, which illustrated how local politics and patronage relations contradict the prescribed mechanism of resource allocation and how, in turn, rural poverty is reproduced. The paper contributes to the accounting literature in three respects. Firstly, it encourages accounting research beyond organizations. Such research emphasises resource allocation issues in relation to wider socio-economic reform programmes such as poverty alleviation in LDCs. This work is thus a notable contribution to the development accounting research programme, which has grown in the last 20 years (cf. Hopper et al., 2009). Secondly, it promotes Bourdieu's ethnographic method among critical accounting researchers being concerned with issues in material and discursive relationships, activities, powers and political patronage. Thirdly, as a study on resource allocation issues beyond organizations, this paper replicates research on “accounting where it is not” (see Choudhury, 1988 and Alawattage, 2011) and supplements studies on the politics of resource allocation within formal settings in LDCs (cf. Hoque and Hopper, 1994, Uddin and Hopper, 2001, Wickramasinghe et al., 2004 and Hopper et al., 2009). The paper proceeds thus. Section 2 elaborates Bourdieu's ethnographic approach to social science research in general, and to the present study in particular. Section 3 describes the field of the poverty alleviation programme with an emphasis on Kalametiya village. Section 4 illustrates how development accounting is practiced in the context of the field-habitus-capital triad. Section 5 discusses the findings and concludes how competing logics have reproduced poverty.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Our theoretical aim was to understand the practices of development accounting. Bourdieu's framework emphasises how practices bring to light a set of logics. This helped us to explain why the actual practices of governance mechanisms deviated from the development ideals. The preceding empirical accounts have shown the co-existence of two competing logics that govern the logic of practice: (1) development logic embedded in development discourses, and (2) cultural-political logic embedded in mundane practices. Both development actors and village people were confronted with these competing logics while they accumulated both economic and cultural capitals. These logics were implicated in structured structures (i.e. institutionalised cultures) and in structuring structures (i.e. changing cultures), and influenced the resource allocation mechanism. Our findings suggest that the resource allocation mechanism was internalised into the actors’ bodies for their own dispositions, despite the plethora of ideals for a better resource allocation mechanism. We conclude by pointing out how these competing logics constituted a particular practice and how “poverty” was reproduced even through the ensuing development accounting regime. As Kalametiya's resource allocation mechanism, governed by village traditions and state bureaucracies, had drawn criticisms, the development accounting discourse promoted a rather collective form of mechanism whereby it was expected that the actors would exercise democratic principles in the allocation of resources. To this end, the new discourse assumed an unproblematic field where old archetypes could be eliminated through development workers’ deinstitutionalisation attempts and new structural logics could be established through restructuring the system of governance. In re-institutionalising this new development discourse, the WB-led policy makers followed the neo-liberal economic and political agenda. They thought that neo-liberal ideologies could easily be imputed in village structures such as those in Kalametiya. It was assumed that the inherent habitus, which reciprocated within local cultures and politics, would be subsumed by the newly emerging ideologies, and that resource allocation mechanisms would then become subservient to poverty alleviation goals. In particular, policy makers thought that IDB, Alpha and KFCS could devise a collective system of governance and accountability with an emphasis on diagnoses, policymaking, monitoring and assistance. In the attempt to institutionalise the so-called development accounting project, on the one hand, there was an implied view that “development” in development accounting is a unitary field of theory and practice, and, thereby, that domesticating the underlying discourse is unproblematic. On the other hand, the “accounting” in development accounting assumed a status of “symbolic power” with cognitive, communicative and political dimensions. By propagating development logics, the symbolic power attached to the resource allocation mechanism took the form of collaborative actions between KFCS, NGOs and government agencies. Consequently, development accounting became a symbolic system operating in the context of the co-existence of competing structural logics, as we see below. Seen from the Western perspective of development ideals, our findings are quite the opposite. Several of them are worth highlighting. Although the poor needed to be empowered and their participation was valuable, it was asset-rich mudalalis who dominated the processes. These mudalalis emerged in the neo-liberal economic environment where fish became an attractive marketable commodity and an asset-rich class of people became prominent, both socially and economically. Equally, this environment made the poor victims of the same system. The reason was clear: previously, fish had been sold in the local market where prices were determined in local circumstances and through local relations; now, the fish workers had to adhere to the rules of mudalalis. We saw that mudalalis possessed this power in two forms: economic and symbolic. The power of symbolic capital was gained through mudalalis’ involvement in the power positions of KFCS. It was poverty that led mudalalis’ voice to become powerful over the voice of the poor. It was this strategy that led the KFCS to determine the mode of resource allocation, monitoring and associated performance evaluation programmes to the satisfaction of mudalalis rather than of the poor. The poor people's habitus here is that “we are poor; we cannot fight them; we need to depend on them”. Thus, the battlefield favours the rich, while KFCS becomes an arena where mudalalis’ power is justified and distributed. The power so organised can then determine how resources are allocated, how the local fish economy is organised and how the surplus is appropriated. Thus, it is this local field structure, rather than the global field of poverty alleviation, which emphasises a particular structural logic. The Kalametiya case suggests that this tendency is coupled with a particular political patronage system. KFCS members who are blessed by mudalalis cannot escape local politics. As local politicians need financial and political support from their respective constituencies, mudalalis come forward to support them and gain political access for the exercise of patronage. Despite NGOs’ professional work and the participative approaches promoted by development agencies, patronage systems operate powerfully and support mudalalis in the determination of resource allocation and the organisation of the local fish economy. The poor are forced to accept the system and become victimised, and do not posses a disposition to come forward for open confrontation with powerful politicians or mudalalis. Instead, they live their daily lives with a cultural struggle over meanings and symbols brought by the inherent system. What actually happens is that they tend to abandon concepts such as artificially imputed participation and democracy because these concepts have been abused, misused and manipulated for the purposes of domination and exploitation. Another mode of exploitation and domination occurs through the presence of NGOs such as Alpha. The ideal aims of NGOs’ presence have been to favour market-based reforms and to help in delivering reform programmes in place of the state bureaucracy. Greater legitimacy is conferred to NGOs, as many believe that they better represent ‘civil society’, being more ‘participatory’ and ‘accountable’ to subordinate social groups. The emerging development accounting programmes operating in Kalametiya suggest the arrival of such practices along with resource allocation mechanisms. However, this did not happen, as the above power relations and patronage system dominated. On the one hand, the villagers did not appreciate the work of “others” who were not part of their culture. Our empirics suggested that people in the village value “their” things over “other” things. Confrontation with NGOs’ roles highlighted this. As a result, NGOs’ development roles and their participative approach to “getting things done” were subject to field logic, which consisted of the above power relations and patronage system. Hence, Alpha adopted a “window dressing” approach to the delivery of accountability rather than playing a true development role. The power of both financial and symbolic capital was held by asset-rich mudalalis and the associated patronage system. When returning to Bourdieu's approach to our analysis, it is clear that two competing field logics kept the inspirations of development accounting away from the game. On the one hand, “development logics” prevail, through which development workers such as NGOs (e.g. Alpha), grassroots societies (e.g. KFCS), and government agents (Patabedi Arachchi) sustain their existence. It is through this development logic that the global discourses of poverty alleviation converge with programme implementation at village level. Moreover, neo-liberal ideologies and associated concepts such as democracy, participation and collaboration provide more fuel for the existence of development logic. As this is geared by Eurocentric development discourses, it is hard to eradicate its existence. The villagers want to gain “something” from them. One the other hand, “cultural-political logics” allow mudalalis and their association with KFCS and local politicians to constitute an inevitable patronage system. Within the package of “cultural-political logic”, people's habitus and resultant capitals are reproduced and sustained. People's embodiment strategies, such as habitus, are powerfully presented here to value local politics and the culture of respecting the rich while undermining the value of NGO roles. These two competing structural logics co-exist for discernable reasons. According to the villagers, they invariably need external resources and assistance. Thus, they do not completely denigrate the role of development agencies. However, they do not prefer the resource allocation methodology devised by these agents. Instead, as their habitus demands, they prefer to preserve the class difference and work hard to earn their living. The “living” they earn is thus not only the economic means they need, but also their “way of life”, which does not question the inequality presented in the governance mechanism of resource allocation. Thus, as was shown in Fig. 2, while a particular new governance mechanism is in place, the actual practice of resource allocation is governed by many idiosyncrasies fuelled by the power relations and patronage system highlighted above. The co-existence of competing structural logics (i.e. development logic and cultural-political logic) imposes conflicting demands on the field structure. This triggers internal tension by which actual practices are enacted while poverty is reproduced. As long as the poor do not confront the tension through formal methods of resistance, silent agitation has become part of the way of life, and is preserved through embodied daily practices. The idiosyncrasies to which we have been referring are thus the co-existence of these competing structural logics. The tension between the development and the cultural-political is nothing else but the presence of habitus. The cultural-political logic perpetuated in people's daily life represents habitus in the form of a past surviving in the present. The development logic tends to perpetuate in habitus by being presented in the present while the daily practices are structured according to the cultural-political logic. Because of this inseparability between the past and the present, two competing structural logics tend to co-exist rather than one being replaced by the other. Thus, practices are the result of interactions between the two logics while one is encountering the other. The degree of encountering tends to determine the extent to which one dominates the other. In the case of Kalametiya, however, the cultural-political logic still dominates development. While this persists, poverty is reproduced, despite the efforts of the practices of development. The greatest contribution to the LDC critical accounting literature (e.g. Wickramasinghe et al., 2004, Wickramasinghe and Hopper, 2005, Hopper et al., 2009, Alawattage and Wickramasinghe, 2009 and Jayasinghe and Thomas, 2009) is, then, a reflection on governance and controls and their processes of resource allocation from the perspective on habitus that links to capitals in a field of poverty alleviation. Rather than thinking of accounting in LDCs as a practice located in its wider socio-political context, the notion of habitus leads us to think of development practices, which we illustrated, as being located in accounting itself. In studying development practices such as the ones we studied in Kalametiya, we can discern that development accounting embraces both development logics and cultural-political logics, rather than looking for development accounting separately located in that context. While the interpretive accounting research project, which has flourished in the last few decades, tends to romanticise the roles of accounting in organisations, institutions and society, our “development accounts” point to the roles of the social in accounting. We leave this to future research for more empirical evidence.