Discourses Surrounding the Evolution of the IASB/FASB Conceptual Framework: What They Reveal about the 'Living Law' of Accounting
20 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2012 Last revised: 2 Jul 2017
Date Written: 2013
The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) recently published the final version of Chapter 1 of their joint Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting (IASB/FASB, 2010). In this article, we focus on two of the key issues addressed in Chapter 1: stewardship and the definition of the primary user groups of financial statements. To address the discourses surrounding the evolution of Chapter 1, we introduce the concept of 'living law' from sociological jurisprudence into accounting scholarship. We first trace the role of stewardship/accountability in the evolution — from antiquity to the present day — of the living law of accounting. We then explore the origin, nature, and implications — from a living law perspective — of the moral traditions associated with stewardship/accountability. Our analysis suggests that stewardship has been, and continues to be, embedded in the living law of accounting — notwithstanding the formal pronouncements of standard setters. We also examine the social accounting project from a living law perspective and we suggest that such an analysis provides new possibilities for addressing core social accounting concerns. We conclude by arguing that, particularly in light of the far reaching impact of the neoliberal agenda, there is an urgent need for scholars in both contemporary 'social' and 'mainstream' accounting to recognize and build upon their shared living law heritage rooted in the age-old traditions of stewardship/accountability.
Keywords: IASB/FASB Conceptual Framework, living law, stewardship, accountability, decision-usefulness, social accounting, corporate social responsibility, sociological jurisprudence, legal pluralism, customary law, Eugen Ehrlich
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