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Accounting for the ‘Deviant’ in 19th Century Italian Prisons

Bigoni, Michele, Antonelli, Valerio, Cafaro, Emanuela Mattia, D'Alessio, Raffaele, Funnell, Warwick N. (2020) Accounting for the ‘Deviant’ in 19th Century Italian Prisons. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 66 . Article Number 102087. ISSN 1045-2354. (doi:10.1016/ (KAR id:74444)


Studies of accounting in prisons have documented how the dominance of neo-liberal preferences in the management of prison systems has meant a focus on measuring cost-effectiveness and discharging accountability in a way which ignores important aspects of prison life such as decency and rehabilitation. The present work recognises the need for accounting studies to unmask the prejudiced, interested and potentially socially damaging use of accounting in prison reform by exposing how accounting is often a tool which can be used to discipline individuals consistent with the values of economic and political elites within a society. By applying a Foucauldian lens to the analysis of the prison systems of the major Italian States in the early 19th century, the study shows how accounting was an essential aid in ensuring that the correction of individuals was carried out consistent with the moral priorities of the liberal bourgeois society of the time. The specific visibilities created by means of accounting, upon which decisions on the life of prisoners were made and which still characterise modern prisons, reduced human life to a simplistic numerical representation. These were then used to reconstruct ‘deviant’ individuals as productive, obedient citizens, regardless of their specific circumstances.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/
Uncontrolled keywords: Accounting, Prison; Foucault; Liberal Values
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: 18 Jun 2019 08:19 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 19:30 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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