Confession and Bookkeeping
The Religious, Moral, and Rhetorical Roots of Modern Accounting
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: State University of New York Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
In American business schools, accounting is treated primarily as “accountingization” (Power and Laughlin, 1992), that is, as a body of technically refined calculations used by organizations to efficiently accomplish goals such as profit maximization. What, if any, theory that is taught reduces largely...
The one person most responsible for this book being in print is Kerry Jacobs, professor of accounting in the School of Business at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. I had long given up on the project when out of the blue Professor Jacobs (then at Edinburgh University in Scotland) e-mailed me in spring...
1. The Problem
The conditions giving rise to rational bureaucratic capitalism, or to what Max Weber calls “the most fateful force in modern life” (Weber, 1958: 17), remain perennially interesting to social historians. What follows is a sociology of one of its pivotal features, double-entry bookkeeping (DEB). My object is to show...
2. Roman Catholic Penance
Virtually from the moment of its founding, Christianity has endorsed the practice of penance both for the debasement of self and its purification. Not until 1215, however, under the auspices of Pope Innocent III and the Fourth Lateran Council, did a particular kind of penance, this involving the confession...
3. The “Scrupulous Disease”
Soon after confessional penance was made compulsory, reports began to be sounded about a peculiar neurosis (as it would be called today) exhibiting itself among the laity. By the end of the thirteenth century, the occasional reports had exploded into an “epidemic” (Delumeau, 1990: 1): Moral scrupulosity—an...
4. Business Scruples
Double-entry bookkeeping (DEB) first appeared in several Italian cities simultaneously (Raymond de Roover, 1955; Florence de Roover, 1956; Chatfield, 1974: 13–16). Its first documented use is in the Massari accounts of Genoa (Melis, 1950: 527). (These may be anticipated by fragments from the secret books...
5. Medieval Morality and Business
In the medieval life-world, commerce was morally questionable. As this Latin aphorism by Gratian reads: “Seldom or never can a man who is a merchant be pleasing to God.” Mercury (Gr.: Hermes), the deity whose name supplies the root for the vocabulary of commerce—merchant, market, merchandise,...
6. The Notary-Bookkeeper
By 1340 in Tuscany and Umbria alone, nearly one hundred major credit institutions were extending credit and in doing so, implicating themselves in “usury of the most dreadful sort” (Martin, 1936: 47–53). If not outraged by the situation, many Church-going denizens of the region nonetheless...
7. The Rhetoric of Double-entry Bookkeeping
The object of this chapter is to show how the major stylistic features of DEB (double-entry bookkeeping), as expounded upon in Luca Pacioli’s Particularis de Computis et Scripturis, were modeled after the principles of Ciceronian rhetoric. This is not to suggest that the treatments of their respective subjects are identical. While Pacioli...
8. Confession and Bookkeeping
During the reign of Pope Gregory VII (1073–1085) and continuing into the middle of the thirteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church undertook a far-reaching program to remake the world. Harold Berman considers it Europe’s first modern revolution (Berman, 1983: 49–84), the model for all those that would eventually follow: the Lutheran,...
Page Count: 151
Publication Year: 2005
OCLC Number: 63161498
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