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Accounting for Biosecurity in Italy Under COVID-19 Lockdown

Antonelli, V., Bigoni, M., Funnell, Warwick N., Cafaro, E. M. (2022) Accounting for Biosecurity in Italy Under COVID-19 Lockdown. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 35 (1). pp. 120-130. ISSN 0951-3574. (doi:10.1108/AAAJ-07-2020-4674) (KAR id:88794)


Purpose – The paper examines how accounting and accounting experts provided important contributions to the Italian government’s strategy to address the COVID-19 emergency in 2020, especially in terms of implementing new rules of conduct and providing justification for penetrating interventions in the life of individuals.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper adopts an interdisciplinary approach by drawing upon Agamben’s concepts of the state of exception, bare life and biosecurity to understand the purposes of the decrees issued by the Italian government and data provided to the citizens in the ‘daily bulletin’ on the crisis by the Civil Protection Department.

Findings – Accounting data provided essential contributions to the government’s strategy that sought to spread disquiet and uncertainty in the population to ensure compliance with the strict rules in place, thereby sustaining the management of the country under a state of exception.

Originality/value – The work contributes to the literature on accounting and emergencies by studying the use of accounting information as a subtle means to ensure support for extreme government actions and ultimately as a political tool that promotes biosecurity as a new government paradigm.

Social implications – The study draws attention to the way in which accounting provides justification for measures that are promoted as provisional but which have enduring effects, most importantly the ability of governments in the future to suspend the rights of individuals. It shows how accounting can influence people’s behaviour and contribute to the development of a permanent state of exception that significantly increases government prerogatives.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1108/AAAJ-07-2020-4674
Uncontrolled keywords: COVID-19; Italy; Agamben; lockdown; bare life; biosecurity; state of exception; accounting
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: 22 Jun 2021 11:13 UTC
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2022 14:07 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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