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Call for papers - Ecological Accounts Special Issue

Special issue call for papers from Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

Ecological Accounts:
Making non-human worlds (in)visible during moments of socio-ecological transformation
Special Issue of Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal

Guest Editors
Markus J. Milne – University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Shona L. Russell – University of St. Andrews, Scotland
Colin Dey – University of Stirling, Scotland

This Special Issue is one component, alongside workshops and digital media, of a project to examine, engage and critique the interrelationships between accounts and accountability in the context of socio-ecological change.

Project Concept, Proposal and Timing
This call seeks papers (and other intellectual contributions) that explore, examine and critique the practices and innovations that make visible (and invisible) the impacts and interconnections of humans, and their organizations, in non-human worlds. In this project, we take the very widest of notions of ‘account’ and ‘account giving’ (e.g., Scott & Lyman, 1968; Boltanski & Thévenot, 2006) and we take the widest view of notions of nature, natural and nature-society relations (e.g.,Castree, 2005; 2013). The project encompasses three main aspects: a re-examination of extant attempts to produce ecological accounts, account giving and accountability; an exploration of new and alternative forms of accounts and account giving; and an exploration of the ways in which academic knowledge is produced as part of critical engagement with theory and the practice of ‘accounting’ for socio-ecological change.

Firstly, we seek to revisit, question and critique the notion of organizational environmental accountability (Hopwood, 2009). Given three decades of environmental and sustainability reporting, the emergence of carbon and water accounting, reporting for biodiversity, and
increasing references to natural capital and its quantification, it seems timely to revisit the warnings of the harmful effects of accounting and accountants’ involvement (e.g., Maunders and Burritt, 1991; Hines 1988, 1991; Gray 1992; Cooper, 1992; Shearer, 2002; Milne, 1996; 2007). Secondly, we wish to encourage exploration of alternative forms of account-giving – as accounting innovations - that might increase the visibility of our socio-ecological interdependencies. We are particularly interested in forms of account-giving that challenge conventional notions of accounting and environmental accounting, that seek to de-centre organizations as accounting loci, and that privilege incommensurability and plurality of values through narratives, images, storytelling (including written, verbal and visual), and other forms of communication, as well as those that seek to offer more formal scientific and quantified (financial and non-financial) accounts. Thirdly, we wish to encourage investigation of the impacts of accounting innovations and accountability practices on efforts to conserve and protect socio-ecological systems. What is made visible and invisible? What is framed in and what is framed out by various forms of account and account giving, and by whom? And, with what effects? What is drawn into focus, what and who is marginalized, and to whose benefit? Who or what is enabled, and to whose benefit?

An increasingly recognised component of environmentalism, nature and sustainability is their discursive nature (Simmons, 1997; Castree, 2005; Braun & Castree, 1998; Hannigan, 2005; Dryzek, 1997; Soule & Lease, 1995; Herndl & Brown, 1996). Nature/environment is not just out there to be discovered by a separate, independent, unbiased human observer; it is in here, in our
heads, our hearts and our consciousness: it is constructed, invented, framed, interpreted, discussed, embodied and argued for by feeling, interested and emotive subjects (Hajer, 1995; Brulle, 2000, 2002; Myerson & Rydin, 1996; Macnaghten & Urry, 1998). Present, past and future relations between human and non-human worlds form the basis for on-going discursive (and extradiscursive)
constructions, claims and counter-claims (Macnaghten & Urry, 1998). And, as many taking a discursive approach have noted, meanings and values are threshed out in competing discourses and experiences (Hajer, 1995; Macnaghten & Urry, 1998).

We believe there are benefits to re-conceptualising environmental accountability as a series of fluid moments of account giving. Accounts and counter-accounts around moments or sites of (discursive) contest provide attractive points of focus for analysis (Whatmore 2009). They open up possibilities to consider alternative forms of accounts and accountability. They provide opportunities to challenge traditional forms of instrumental and calculative reason. In turn, they offer generative possibilities (Whatmore 2013). This project wishes to open up and grapple with concepts of accounts, the giving and receiving of accounts, and accountability, the use and exploitation of the natural world and animals, and its resistance. We anticipate this project will raise accounts of, inter alia: economic surplus, land use and landscape transformation, water usage and discharge, the impacts of mechanized and industrialized processes, biodiversity loss, ecological restoration, animal welfare (behaviour and pathology), as well as evoking accounts of nature, wilderness and what constitutes natural. We anticipate accounts will come from a range of interests, focus on a range of issues, draw on a wide basis of beliefs and values, and utilize a variety of means and media to articulate and communicate them.

Given these accounting innovations may not be aligned easily with the production of an academic journal article or Special Issue, the third objective is to experiment with workshops and the use of other communication media, in order to engage with a wider range of contributors and contributions, and encourage broader consideration of the multi-disciplinary nature of ecological accounting. Finally, in seeking such wider engagement, we aim to connect and create communities of academics and activists concerning ecological accounts throughout the four-year project associated with the Special Issue, in order to experiment, learn and create through different media and generate impact on an ongoing basis as well as through the final outputs of journal articles and a special issue.

Our intent is not to limit contributions to conventional peer-reviewed scholarly and scientific papers published in an academic journal, but to also provide the means, both on-line and at workshops, to communicate and explore other forms of ecological accounts. We are open to a wide range of contributions in multiple formats, and we are keen to encourage wide-ranging imagination in regard to what constitutes “ecological accounts” and how they are best communicated. We intend to open and run a social media network for the duration of the project.

We also intend to publish popular versions of the academic contributions on-line, and to open these for on-line commentary post publication.

Send Expressions of Interest to:
Professor Markus J. Milne – [email protected]
Dr. Shona L. Russell – [email protected]
Dr. Colin Dey – [email protected]

Follow the Ecological Accounts project

Key Dates
1 Dec 2013 Announcement of Project and Invitations for contributions and EOI.
1 Apr 2014 On-line project social media/web sites in place and running. Second call for
contributions and EOI.
Aug 2014 Workshop #1 – University of St. Andrews/CSEAR Conference.
July 2015 Workshop #2 – TBA
31 Dec 2015 Deadline for submissions of scholarly paper contributions for peer review.
30 June 2014 to 30 Oct 2017 Period open for other contributions including blogs, posts to social media, photo essays, films, and for on-going on-line (moderated) commentary and reviews.
30 Jun 2017 Publication of Special Issue and popular summaries on-line and open invitations for (moderated) commentary.
30 Oct 2017 Closure of on-line comments, reviews, etc… Project complete.
Possible Contributions and Areas of Interest
We are keen to encourage scholarly contributions from accounting, management, geography, ecology and other cognate fields that might address the following, for example:
 Theoretical contributions that seek to investigate what constitutes a legitimate “account” of the environment and how such constructions, when applied in the context of ecology, might harm or hinder its functioning.
 The interplay between practices of account-giving, accountability and environmental governance that are situated in space and time.
 Studies that investigate multiple accounts of ecological impact, and how different accounts are privileged and to what effects, for example in the context of proposals for new developments, knowledge controversies or in social movements.
 Framing & innovations of environmental accounts, involving narratives, photographs, films,
 The discursive construction of socio-ecological systems as natural, nature, scientific, spiritual, capital, resources, in accounts and how these impact on our beliefs, values, relations, and identity, as well as how they shape our decisions and actions within such systems.
 Critical reviews and investigations of contemporary attempts to value and account for natural “capital”, as ecosystem services and as economic commodities
 Critical investigations of the role of capitalism, private finance, business and market devices in conservation and environmental management
 The extent to which critical studies, in fields of accounting, management and organisations has paid attention to matters ecological, and how they might do so in future. (e.g., Shrivastava’s 1994 critique of organizational studies).

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Braun, B., & Castree, N. (Eds.) (1998) Remaking Reality: Nature at the Millenium, Routledge: London.
Brulle, R.J., (2000) Agency, Democracy, and Nature: The U.S. Environmental Movement from a Critical Theory Perspective, MIT Press: MA.
Brulle, R.J., (2002) Habermas and Green Political Thought: Two Roads Converging, Environmental Politics, 11(4):1–20
Castree, N. (2005) Nature, Routledge: London.
Castree, N., (2013) Making Sense of Nature, Routledge: London.
Cooper, C., (1992) The Non and Nom of Accounting for (M)other Nature, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 5(3): 16-39.
Dryzek, J. (1997). The Politics of the Earth. Environmental Discourses. New York: Oxford University Press.
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Hajer, M. A. (1995). The Politics of Environmental Discourse. Ecological Modernization and the Polity Process. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Hannigan, J., (2005) Environmental Sociology, 2nd Edn, Routledge: London.
Herndl, C.G., & Brown, S. C., (Eds.) (1996) Green Culture: Environmental Rhetoric in Contemporary America, University of Wisconsin Press: Wisconsin.
Hines, R. D., (1988) Financial accounting: In communicating reality, we construct reality, Accounting, Organizations and Society 13(3): 251–261
Hines, R. D., (1991) On Valuing Nature, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 4(3): 27-29.
Hopwood, A.G., (2009) Accounting and the Environment, Accounting, Organizations and Society, 34: 433–439.
Macnaghten, P., & Urry, J., (1998) Contested Natures, Sage Publications: London.
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Milne, M.J., (2007) Downsizing Reg (Me and You)! Addressing the ‘real’ sustainability agenda at work and home, chapter 6 in Social Accounting, Mega Accounting and Beyond: Festschrift in Honour of Martin (Reg) Mathews, Gray. R.H. and Guthrie, J. (eds.), CSEAR: St. Andrews.
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Shearer, T., (2002) Ethics and accountability: from the for-itself to the for-the-other, Accounting, Organizations and Society, 27(6): 541-573.
Shrivastava, P. (1994). Castrated environment: greening organizational studies. Organization Studies, 15(5), 705-727.
Simmons, I. G. (1997). Humanity and Environment: A Cultural Ecology. Harlow: Longman.
Soulé, M.E., & Lease, G., (Eds.) (1995) Reinventing Nature?:Responses To Postmodern Deconstruction, Island Press: Washington DC.
Whatmore, S.J., (2009). Mapping knowledge controversies: science, democracy and the redistribution of expertise. Progress in Human Geography, 33(5): 587–598.
Whatmore, S.J., (2013). Earthly Powers and Affective Environments: An Ontological Politics of Flood Risk. Theory, Culture & Society. (in press): 1-18.