The silent resistance: An ethnographic study of the use of silence to resist accounting and managerialization

This paper introduces silence as a form of resistance. Critical accounting studies portrayed resistance in terms of visibility and voice, and silence as a passive reaction from marginalized groups unable to speak, deprived of ‘voice’. Instead, we draw on an ethnographic study to follow various resisting strategies drawing on silence to actively undermine accounting technologies and practices. We draw on Scott’s infrapolitics and introduce silence as a strategic act, constitutive of power relations yet with multiple and situated meanings. We argue that silence acts both to forge a form of contestation that dares not speak its name and to constitute a space for the development of an alternative conduct to reclaim independence. Specifically, we identify four tactics using silence as a form of resistance – silence to escape accountability and control; silence to negotiate an alternative; silence to reclaim independence; and silence to retain power and authority. We then discuss the potential and limits of such silent resistance to support the emergence of alternative conducts.

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This paper is published in Critical Perspectives on Accounting

Authors: Caecilia Drujon d’Astros, Jeremy Morales

Caecilia Drujon d'Astros, professeure associée, Dr
Jeremy Morales, University of Bristol

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