There is a long-standing debate within the social and environmental accounting research community concerning whether research engagement with (commercial) organisations and decision-makers is detrimental to the pursuit of sustainability transformation. Those critical of engagement research see such an approach as futile or outright harmful, suggesting that scholars are bound to be co-opted in the process and essentially end up reproducing systems of domination. In response, we emphasise in this paper how engagement research requires an exercise of reflexivity, which, hopefully, makes us “more conscious and more systematic” about engagement research and provides “the mutual surveillance” (Bourdieu, 2000b, p. 119) required for this academic exercise. Drawing on Bourdieu's Pascalian Meditations, we discuss the implications of the notions of intellectual autonomy and scientific capital in the field of social and environmental accounting research and stress that both the scholastic situation and engagement with the social world are necessary elements for scholarship. We argue, on the one hand, that critical research in social and environmental accounting is a key mechanism to enhance the scientific capital of the field—through improved theorising of power and conflict—and hence retain (strengthen) the autonomy of social and environmental accounting. On the other hand, we also suggest that reinvigorating research on the relevance of accounting techniques for sustainable development is essential for our scientific capital and the wider contribution of social accounting across intellectual fields and beyond.
- Jufo-taso 2
!!ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Information Systems and Management