The book aims to investigate some aspects of the evolution of accounting in a national context and to highlight the complex web of socio- economic relationships in which accounting is embedded. Italy is presented as an example of a country in which accounting has played a number of diverse roles, including ones that in comparative terms might have been unusual for their time. The work considers four detailed Italian case studies as a means of illustrating the interrelationships between accounting and its national environment. A further aim of the book is to challenge some widely held beliefs which infuse conventional accounting studies. In particular, the work problematises: – the notion that accounting and its related professional institutions have developed to serve purposes of economic control for capitalistic, profit-based companies (Ch. 3); – the idea that accounting is a technical, self-enclosed body of knowledge (‘accounting is just about accounting’) (Ch. 4); – the view that accounting is functional to economic growth and corporate success, and therefore its rules ought to be similar, if not identical, across national boundaries (Ch. 5); – the assumption that accounting practice in continental European countries, such as Italy, is notably different from that in Anglo-American jurisdictions on the basis that international variety in accounting practice necessarily reflects diversity in socio-economic and cultural contexts (Ch. 6). The episodes analysed illustrate that some of the traditional interpretations of the meaning and roles of accounting in context are indeed questionable when investigated with reference to Italy where features of the historical, institutional and socio-economic environment are quite distinct from those generally considered in the international literature (typically referring to Anglo-Saxon settings)
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