Accounting, knowing and being: Malaysian multi-ethnographic case studies

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Mustafa, Hasri
School of Accounting and Finance - Faculty of Commerce
thesis / dissertation description
In the ongoing modernization state of our everyday life, there is considerable common sense that remains deeply engrained but provides excellent framing narratives for the understanding of accounting treatises. These include signs, symbols, images, metaphors and conceptions of those holding the divergent characteristics of 'being-in'. In Malaysian society the most common construction of these are in the inscriptions of 'Bumiputera', 'multiethnic society', 'UMNO', 'New Economic Policy', 'Islam'. At the heart ofMalaysian modernity, they play a significant role in the setting of ideology, politics, religion, race and economics. They are the pathway for the establishment of Malaysian identity and they reflect the characters and contents of Malaysian society. Critically, the key challenge is to address the insights within which lie the distinct genres of ethnographic translation with which knowledge ofaccounting and knowledge about accounting are to be profoundly associated. In this thesis, 'Bumiputera', 'multiethnic society', 'UMNO', 'New Economic Policy', 'Islam' are the themes. They create a critical space for studying accounting as a human science. They suggest the research and present a special problem in the accounting treatises. However, in yielding an ethnographic study of accounting that is to meet this aim, they are to be contextualized not as histories but in organizational discourses. This is important in order to make them visible, that is, although they are 'global' in nature they are to be understood as 'local'. In this study, ECF (Employee Commitment Fund), RCARE (Road-Way Care) and DIB (Darnl Islamic Bank) are the organizations that are to portray the above concern. The basis ofthis ethnographic study is Geertz's interpretive anthropology that advocates that 'one makes detours, goes by side roads', and uses 'methodological sleight of hand', 'experience-near', 'experience-distant' - all that call 'the understanding of understanding'. It is detailed under the following interrelated schemes of the conception of culture: 'by isolating its elements', 'internal relationships', and 'in some general way'. Empirically, in the story ofECF, accounting is depicted as containing the rational and objective view. This is due to the fact that ECF is confined to establish both trust and security in an utopian ideological form. In the story ofRCARE, accounting is written to accompany the socio-political and monarchic view. This view is characterized in the discussions of network of contracts and network of debts in the political institutionalism and corporate hegemony descriptions. As a result, accounting is bound to have priority which is based on maintaining the 'specific' established economic community. In the story of DIB, accounting is scrutinized in the domain of accountability in the conception of khalifah, interest-free and religious auditor. As a conception, accountability is viewed both as a moral motive and obligation. This is discussed in the expressions 'many assistant managers but with no prescribed job description at the commencement of work-too many meetings-spiritless in giving training' issues. Viewed from the perspective that the stories have offered, accounting is presented to intellectually discuss the macro-micro settings: the State, the ruling party, and self-belief. In these pluralistic and conflictual views, supported by the views of doing 'local management control', accounting is seen as enfolding the common sense routines. This is appropriate for highlighting what this study has proposed in treating the accounting discourse as a human science.