Developing a socioeconomic measure of the changing occupational status of British accountants in the nineteenth century


Clarke, Kevin. (2010). Developing a socioeconomic measure of the changing occupational status of British accountants in the nineteenth century [Thesis].
AuthorsClarke, Kevin
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The history of accountants, accounting firms and their representative bodies has been thoroughly researched and documented. Universally these studies cite nineteenth-century Britain as the birthplace of accounting as a unique occupational classification. As a result, Scotland, England and Wales have been widely recognised as critical sites for the professionalisation of the discipline world-wide. What is evident from a review of the literature is that studies of the professionalisation of British accounting have been predominantly based on anecdotal or qualitative evidence. Only in recent times have there been attempts made to gather and critique quantifiable evidence of accounting’s social evolution. The publication of such studies, based primarily on nineteenth-century census and enumeration data, has often inspired accounting historians to both revisit, and sometimes reassess, their perceptions of accounting’s socio-historic journey. The few quantitative studies that exist tend only to examine specific (and relatively brief) periods of nineteenth-century accounting history. Given the extended temporal nature of the professionalisation process, it is the view of the current study that the development of valid, empirical time-series data would facilitate a more comprehensive analysis, and thus understanding, of the social elevation of accounting as an occupation. However, no such data has been available to accounting historians. A preliminary investigation has identified a number of empirical metrics that have been developed and applied by sociologists to both conceptualise and measure an occupation’s social status. The status measures developed by these studies have proven valuable tools in the investigation of many social phenomenons. Unfortunately these measures have not been developed, or applied, by socio-historians and as a result occupational status data exists only for periods of the twentieth century. Motivated by the scarcity of nineteenth-century empirical information pertaining to occupational status and encouraged by the potential application of these status metrics, the present study has sought to identify, adapt and apply an appropriate, comparable measure of occupational status to the nineteenth-century English (and Welsh) occupational hierarchies. The study then uses this data as a means of generating specific measures of the occupational status of accountants as they emerged to form professional accounting bodies in England and Wales...

PublisherAustralian Catholic University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Research GroupPeter Faber Business School
Final version
Publication dates03 Feb 2010
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