Social Acccounting Mentality

From P2P Foundation
Revision as of 07:31, 30 December 2010 by Mbauwens (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Tom Walker:

"What I see as strategically vital is a counter-mentality that redirects the irresistible momentum of technological development toward other ends.

Werner Sombart described the concept of capital as something that “did not exist before double-entry bookkeeping.” “Capital,” he wrote, “can be defined as that amount of wealth which is used in making profits and which enters into the accounts.” Rob Bryer has written of a capitalist mentality that consists of using accounting information to control the labor process “by holding the collective worker accountable for the rate of return on capital.” Such control by the bottom line is central, not incidental, to both the domination of the labor process by capital and the evolution of the ways that domination has been implemented through successive forms of technology. Any alternative to that domination requires the development of a counter-mentality that “turns the capitalist development of calculation and accountability to other ends.”

Bryer referred to that counter-mentality as a “socialist mentality” but I would amend that to a “social accounting mentality” to both enlist and implicate an incumbent social accounting tradition as well as to distance the alternative mentality from advocacy of state socialism. Ownership of the means of production may be beside the point or it may be more eclectic than traditional socialism assumes. It is not private ownership per se that is onerous but the domination over the labor process that a one-dimensional accounting mentality enforces. Social accounting is simply the kind of accounting that has to be done when two or more accounting entities are being aggregated. It differs from the accounting of a single enterprise in the way that transactions between the constituent parts are treated. Great care needs to be taken in defining the boundaries between parties to avoid errors such as “double counting.” It is, in effect, the systematic double counting of the returns due to capital that maintains the social domination of capital and obstructs social justice." (

More Information

  • For a fuller outline of this “social accounting mentality” at its historical grounding see “Time on the Ledger: Social Accounting for the Good Society”, at