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Capitalising education: exploring the development of professional identity in certified accountants through the role of education and training

By Anne Patricia Stafford


The thesis takes a disciplinary approach derived from the work of Foucault (1977), but further developed by Hoskin (1993) and Hoskin and Macve (1986), to emphasise how disciplinarity has a double positive meaning as knowledge and power. Modern disciplinarity is produced through the exercise of certain key 'disciplinary practices', in particular those of writing, examining and grading, which engender both the modern forms of powerful expert knowledge and the application of expertise-based power to the forming of humans as individuals and populations. This disciplinary approach is used here to re-theorise the study of professionalisation as a historical process, and the constitution of professionals as powerful individuals through qualification in knowledge-powerful professions.\ud \ud The growth of the ACCA is studied as an exercise in disciplinarity, in part because it constitutes such an anomaly for the jurisdictional approach developed by Abbott (1988). It has staked a successful claim to professional independence and now claims to be the largest global professional accountancy body. The study traces the history of the ACCA's development through four major stages of growth. At inception, the ACCA's founder bodies set up an examination-based education and training system like that of the chartered bodies, but with expedient differences, e.g. no requirement for articles or to work in practice. Later various ways of becoming 'more disciplinary' were developed, including the use of more active forms of pedagogy in exam-preparation, and expanding institutional linkages with colleges and then universities. While status differences survived, the ACCA became increasingly undifferentiable from the old chartered bodies. The ACCA capitalised on this lack of difference to grow the organisation. At the same time, it has bought into the higher-level disciplinary knowledge that accounting has become, and now examines potential entrants on that knowledge, and maintains its jurisdictional space on that basis

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