"Breaking up the sky": the characterization of accounting and accountants in popular music

Smith, David and Jacobs, Kerry (2011) "Breaking up the sky": the characterization of accounting and accountants in popular music. Accounting, Auditing, and Accountability Journal, 24 7: 904-931. doi:10.1108/09513571111161648

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Author Smith, David
Jacobs, Kerry
Title "Breaking up the sky": the characterization of accounting and accountants in popular music
Journal name Accounting, Auditing, and Accountability Journal
ISSN 1368-0668
Publication date 2011-09-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1108/09513571111161648
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 24
Issue 7
Start page 904
End page 931
Total pages 28
Place of publication Kidlington, Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Pergamon Press
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Purpose – This paper aims to present an examination of the characterisation of accounting and accountants in popular music. Some authors have considered the place of accounting in popular culture and the social perceptions of accounting and accountants. This research aims to advance this work by suggesting that music both offers a powerful insight into social perceptions of accounting, and serves both to reflect and reinforce these perceptions.

Design/methodology/approach – Songs featuring accountants were identified, which was verified by a search of song lyric databases using the search terms “accountant/s”, “accounting” and “accounts” and accounting terms. The lyrics were analysed on the basis of how the accountants or accounting activity were presented, and a taxonomy was established.

Findings – Some songs reflect the image of the accountant as both the facilitator and accoutrement of positions of wealth and privilege. The dark side of the image is the assertion that the accountant will abuse their position of trust. The final, and perhaps most sinister image, is that of accountants as the perpetrators of fraud and deception. It is concluded that these images of accountants and accounting illustrate that the accounting profession is facing a significant challenge in terms of its image and relationship to the public.

Originality/value – This study is the first to consider the characterisation of accountants/accounting in popular music. Recent representations have tended to characterise accounting and accountants in a particularly negative light. Accountants are presented as agents in the destruction of the environment, exploiters of the poor, accessories and agents of the wealthy and constructors of a “truth” that benefits the rich. Overall, the representation of accounting in music tends to fit the position adopted by many of the most critical accounting authors. A particular aspect of the oppressive role exercised by accountants and accounting in society is as the embodiment of, and advocate for, or even a metaphor for, a particular form of economic reason that progressively suppresses and destroys relationships, the environment and artistic creativity in the interest of financial gain.
Keyword Accounting
Popular music
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: UQ Business School Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 17 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 16 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 02 Feb 2016, 00:57:39 EST by Karen Morgan on behalf of UQ Business School