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Title: Financial accounting calculation in relation to nature
Authors: Cuckston, Thomas James
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Controversies drawn from the main thesis research question – asking what is the relationship between financial accounting calculation and nature – lead to the specification of research sub-questions. Firstly, how does financial accounting calculation communicate and/or construct the reality of humanity’s economic relationship with nature? Secondly, what is the role of financial accounting calculation in building markets for the purpose of addressing specific environmental problems? Thirdly, what kind of ontological relationship exists between financial accounting calculation and nature? These controversies are examined via two empirical case studies, utilising the principles of actor-network theory, and a conceptual discussion that draws from these cases and from literature on financial markets. The first empirical case study seeks to examine how the biodiversity comprising a tropical forest ecosystem in the Kasigau Corridor in Keyna is protected as a result of having its conservation brought into financial accounting calculations by constructing, via processes of objectification and singularisation, a greenhouse gas emissions offset product to sell on the voluntary over-the-counter carbon markets. The second empirical case study seeks to examine the performativity of financial accounting in the construction of markets in tropical forest carbon. The analysis describes and explains the conflicts surrounding the translation of carbon market calculative devices by networks of organisational actors to extract a tradable accounting inscription from the world of tropical forests. A conceptual discussion then places economic markets on a flat ontological landscape with natural systems. This theoretical conception allows for a direct comparison between the roles of financial accounting calculations in markets and that of other forms of calculation and emergent computation in natural systems, finding that they are ontologically equivalent. This then provides a new theoretical frame for considering issues such as pluralism of accountings and accounting for sustainability.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:Newcastle University Business School

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