Chow, D., Bracci, E.
Neoliberalism, accounting, and the transformation of subjectivities in social work: A study on the implementation of personal budgets
(2020) Financial Accountability and Management, 36 (2), pp. 151-170.
This study examines, through the case of Personal Budgets in England, the role of accounting in transforming the subjectivities of social workers through a Foucauldian lens. The findings show how accounting can reshape the subjectivities of social workers serving as intermediaries responsible for the frontline implementation of neoliberal reforms. It does so through an empirical demonstration on how accounting harnesses an individual’s autonomy and responsibility to nurture “productive” relationships between citizens and the state. Furthermore, the findings also highlight the vulnerability of social workers’ subjectivities from the installation of an accounting infrastructure with multiple capabilities. This study contributes to a more nuanced understanding of how neoliberal policies transform subjectivities in social work and adds to the literature on accounting’s biopolitical role in the reconstitution of such subjectivities. It also addresses the relative neglect of studies examining the role of accounting in neoliberal transformations of social work that, despite its significance for an ageing society and its attendant consequences for public finances, receives far less attention than healthcare reforms. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
accounting; Foucault; neoliberal; social work; subjectivity