Assembling a practice of social belonging: the politics of budgeting in an alternative organization

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The purpose of this paper is to develop understanding of the ways in which actors may resolve the contradictions between the social and private aspects of accounting. It pursues this aim by developing theory and knowledge of the roles of belonging in the politics of budgeting.
First, the paper develops a Latourian anthropological theory of belonging as a social practice. It shows how this makes a significant departure from actor-network Latourian studies, shifting the focus onto the emotional and cognitive capacities that may enable actors to work through and gradually overcome the socio-political conflicts that budgeting can provoke. Second, to identify such a practice, it studies a Spanish cooperative involved in collective responses to socio-economic and political instability.
The study finds that the emotional and cognitive work by which the actors assembled their collective practice of belonging was influenced by their interactions with budgets, and, in turn, mediated the way they dealt with budgets, giving rise to more enabling roles and effects. It traces, for example, how planning and cost reduction supported abilities to relate the actors’ problems and anxieties to broader social problems, fostering more positive emotions including empathy, enthusiasm, and respect.
Research limitations/implications
The findings offer a complementary, but alternative view of the socio-political character of budgeting techniques to prior studies, which advances understanding of how actors could shape more enabling roles and effects.
Practical implications
Involving budgets in discussions and meetings can increase the scope for work that leads to greater freedom, social cohesion, and wellbeing.
This is the first study to demonstrate how belonging can be actively assembled through budgeting. It has particular value for understanding how alternative organizations can use accounting to avoid fragmenting and degeneration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)925-949
Number of pages25
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2018

Structured keywords

  • AF Management Accounting


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