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Accounting for Power and Resistance: the University of Ferrara under the Fascist Regime in Italy

Papi, L., Bigoni, M., Deidda Gagliardo, E., Funnell, Warwick N. (2019) Accounting for Power and Resistance: the University of Ferrara under the Fascist Regime in Italy. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 62 . pp. 59-76. ISSN 1045-2354. (doi:10.1016/ (KAR id:70037)


Recognising the dynamic character of the exercise of power, this study analyses the complex interplay between power and resistance, as conceived by Foucault, after the Italian Fascists sought to subjugate all Italian universities. When the University of Ferrara, a ‘Free University’, resisted the government’s intentions, which would also have meant restricting access to higher education to working class youth, accounting practices became essential in providing justification for the government’s actions. In response, the University was forced to use accounting practices as its main form of defence. This resulted in the government having to use different tactics to achieve its final goals. If resistance is met by governments in the implementation of their programmes this may require a shift in the tactics originally employed to achieve the planned outcomes. Greater demands were placed on the funders of the University and changes were made to how the University’s performance was represented, interpreted and evaluated by the means of accounting practices. In the power struggle, accounting played different roles in the service of conflicting objectives, ranging from concealing the interested nature of political action, demonstrating the achievement of financial stability and self-sufficiency, providing legitimacy or ensuring the use of resources consistent with the aims of those who exercised power. So persuasive was the action enabled by accounting information that the State was finally able to gain control of the University without making it a ‘Kingdom University’, and hence seeming to preserve the appearance of independence almost until the end of the Fascist regime.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/
Uncontrolled keywords: Accounting; Foucault; Power; Resistance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Department of Accounting and Finance
Depositing User: Michele Bigoni
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2018 09:13 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2023 13:17 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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