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An ecological critique of accounting: The circular economy and COVID-19
Critical Perspectives on Accounting. 2022, V. 82, 102320
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Given the increasing participation of accounting technologies in purported solutions to deal with the ecological crisis, we address two areas where a growing accounting literature is emerging, the circular economy and the COVID-19 pandemic, testing some ideas to inform an ecological critique of accounting that could help us ward off the “dreams of escaping” (Latour, 2018). We suggest that the conceptual separation between nature and society renders accounting for the circular economy and the COVID-19 pandemic problematic. A critical account of the circular economy might problematize things like the whole economic system’s physical scale, spatial and temporal system boundaries, consumer culture, and the inherent politics of the circular economy. We also suggest that a critical account of the COVID-19 pandemic needs to take on board the participation of accounting representations in the construction of particular narratives about the virus. In particular, calculations of the costs caused by COVID-19 need to be connected to the ecological value of viruses to illustrate how the social and the biological worlds are inextricably connected. In both cases, we suggest critical accounting researchers need to be actively involved in discussions about how valuation constructs narratives about resource or waste, with significant implications on how we conceive the relationship between humanity and the environment.
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