1st Edition

Audit Cultures Anthropological Studies in Accountability, Ethics and the Academy

By Marilyn Strathern Copyright 2000

    Do audit cultures deliver greater responsibility, or do they stifle creative thought?
    We are all increasingly subjected to auditing, and alongside that, subject to accountability for our behaviour and actions. Audit cultures pervade in the workplace, our governmental and public institutions as well as academia. However, audit practices themselves have consequences, beneficial and detrimental, that often go unexamined.
    This book examines how pervasive practices of accountability are, the political and cultural conditions under which accountability flourishes and the consequences of their application. Twelve social anthropologists look at this influential and controversial phenomenon, and map out the effects around Europe and the Commonwealth, as well as in contexts such as the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and Academic institutions. The result provides an excellent insight into auditing and its dependence on precepts of economic efficiency and ethical practice. This point of convergence between these moral and financial priorities provides an excellent opening for debate on the culture of management and accountability.

    Introduction 1. The analytic and textual practices of the International Monetary Fund: an examination of international auditing 2. Coercive accountability: The new audit culture and its impact on Anthropology 3. Generic genius - how does it all add up? 4. Anthropology, accountability and the European Commission 5. The trickster's dilemma: ethics and the technologies of the anthropological self 6. Audited accountability and the imperative of moral responsibility: beyond the primacy of the political and the systematic and the calling of Swaraj 7. Self-accountability, ethics and 'the problem of meaning' 8. Bureaucratic rationalisation and reunification: an exploration of the ethnography and politics of accountability 9. Academia: same pressures, same conditions of work? 10. Disciples, discipline and reflection: anthropological encounters and trajectories


    Marilyn Strathern is Professor of Social Anthropology at Cambridge University and Mistress of Girton College.

    'Deeply interesting ...The book stands as an important and persuasive testament to alternative ways of responding to racism and sexism' - JARI