2015_AuditCultureRevisited_CurrentAnthropology.docx

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See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: Audit Culture Revisited Article in Current Anthropology · May 2015 DOI: 10.1086/681534 CITATIONS 59 READS 1,324 2 authors: Cris Shore Goldsmiths, University of London 121 PUBLICATIONS 3,515 CITATIONS Susan Wright Aarhus University, Copenhagen Campus 45 PUBLICATIONS 2,284 CITATIONS Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects: Audit Culture View project Anthropology of Europe View project All content following this page was uploaded by Cris Shore on 23 February 2016. The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file.
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Current Anthropology Volume 56, Number 3, June 2015 421 Audit Culture Revisited Rankings, Ratings, and the Reassembling of Society by Cris Shore and Susan Wright The spread of the principles and techniques of fi nancial accounting into new systems for measuring, ranking, and auditing performance represents one of the most important and de fi ning features of contemporary governance. Audit procedures are rede fi ning accountability, transparency, and good governance and reshaping the way orga- nizations and individuals have to operate. They also undermine professional autonomy and have unanticipated and dysfunctional consequences. Taking up the concept of audit culture as an analytical framework, we examine the origins, spread, and rationality driving these new fi nancialized techniques of governance, not least through the work of the Big Four accountancy fi rms, and trace their impact across a number of fi elds, from administration and the military to business corporations and universities. We ask, what new kinds of ethics of accountability does audit produce? Building on Mitchell (1999), Strathern (2000 a ), Trouillot (2001), and Merry (2011), we identify how the techniques and logics of fi nancial accountancy have fi ve audit effects. These are “domaining,” “classi fi catory,” “individualizing and totalizing,” “governance,” and “perverse” effects. We conclude by re ecting on the problems of audit culture and suggest ways to reclaim the professional values and democratic spaces that are being eroded by these new systems of governing by numbers. Rankings are part of a global movement that is rede fi ning accountability, transparency, and good governance in terms of quantitative measures . . . they diminish the sa- lience of local knowledge and professional autonomy, they absorb vast resources, and they insinuate and extend market logic. (Sauder and Espeland 2009:80) Ever since anthropologists started to engage with the ideas of Michel Foucault, the discipline has recognized that seem- ingly mundane routines often have the most profound im- pact on the manner in which people are governed. Whether it is awarding smileys for customer satisfaction with the clean- liness of airport toilets, collecting points to win the Walmart Employee of the Month certi fi cate, or competing for the Best Student Experience Award and counting academic publica- tions to brand one’s college as a
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  • Fall '19
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  • Financial audit, Cris Shore, Susan Wright, Wright Audit Culture

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