From cosmological to commercial form: A Buddhist theory of ‘form’, ‘space’ and ‘stream of re-becoming’ in mid-19th century Thai accounting

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This paper elaborates a Buddhist theory of practice which revises theoretical emphasis in the critical accounting literature on the dominance or hegemony of accounting ‘structures’, particularly structural interpretations of dominance and hegemony adapted from analytical frameworks in the works of Gramsci, Foucault, Bourdieu, Giddens and Latour. Using Buddhist theoretical concepts of ‘form’ (rupa), ‘space’ and ‘emptiness’ (suññata¯ ), and ‘stream’ (sota) of ‘re-becoming’ (punabbhava), this paper argues that perceived dominant or hegemonic ‘forms’ are inherently transient and ephemeral (anicca) because they are continually emptied of ‘self’ (anatta¯ ) by confluent ‘flows’ of practice which course in ‘spaces’ within, through and around these ‘forms’ and constantly dis-aggregate and re-aggregate them in variegated ways. The paper exemplifies this importance of ‘flows’ of practice in ‘empty spaces’ in terms of a case-study of transformation from Buddhist cosmologically-premised tax-accounts to commercialised tax-accounts based around Chinese trading practices in mid-19th century Siam/Thailand. The paper analyses the nature of this Siamese accounting transformation or stream of ‘re-becoming’ in terms of the confluent flow of different cosmological and commercial accounting practices, and argues in consequence for the impermanent and transient nature of dominant or hegemonic accounting structures and formations.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
Early online date4 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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