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Accounting for the male domination through legislative empowerment of upper-middle class women in the early nineteenth century Spain

Bernal, María Dolores Capelo, Pinzón, Pedro Araújo, Funnell, Warwick N. (2018) Accounting for the male domination through legislative empowerment of upper-middle class women in the early nineteenth century Spain. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 31 (4). pp. 1174-1198. ISSN 0951-3574. (doi:10.1108/AAAJ-04-2014-1664) (KAR id:67104)



The purpose of this paper is to address both the neglect of non-Anglo-centric accounting gendered practices beyond the predominant professional setting and the controversial roles of women and accounting in power relationships inside the household. Analyzing a Spanish upper-middle class Catholic family in the early nineteenth century, the research focuses on the reciprocal interaction of accounting with practices and processes of daily life in a rigid patriarchal socio-cultural and juridical context.


This microhistory draws upon several archives, including in Spain the Archivo Histórico Provincial de Cádiz. In England, the Bath Record Office has preserved documents and correspondence, both personal and business related, and the Worcester Record Office preserved notarial documents concerning the family. The large number of letters which have survived has facilitated an in-depth study of the people who were affected by accounting calculations.


In a juridical context where women were conceived as merely the means for the circulation of property between two families, the evidence shows that accounting provided the proof of women’s patrimony value and the means to facilitate their recovery in this cosification process. Although women had a little involvement in the household’s accounting and management, they demonstrated confidence in accounting, fulfilling a stewardship function for the resources received. Also, evidence shows that by using accounting practices to shield supposedly defenseless women, this reinforced male domination over women and promoted the view that the role of women was as an ornament and in need of a good husband.


Contrasting with the Anglo-Saxon contemporary context, the Spanish law preserved a woman’s property rights, guaranteeing recovery of properties owned by her before marriage should the marriage be legally annulled or be dissolved because one of the spouses’ death. This required a detailed accounting of the wife’s properties brought to her marriage, most especially regarding the dowry provided by her family.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1108/AAAJ-04-2014-1664
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Department of Accounting and Finance
Depositing User: Warwick Funnell
Date Deposited: 22 May 2018 14:57 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2022 22:08 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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