The Institute of Accounts: Nineteenth Century Origins of Accounting Professionalism in the United States

By Stephen E. Loeb; Paul J. Miranti Jr. | Go to book overview

4

The structure of accounting knowledge and the natural order of society

A central feature in the IA’s program of professionalism was the definition of the knowledge base of accounting in the form of an intellectual construct known both as “accountics” and the “science of accountancy. ” This system of ideas had, as we shall show in this section, at least four functions that included: (A) making comprehensible the basic organization of accounting knowledge and the use of measurement and classifications through which the benefits of such knowledge were channeled to society; (B) clarifying the relationship of the knowledge base and occupational segments; (C) developing the knowledge base including the areas of account classification, analytical techniques, systems, and auditing; and (D) searching for ways accounting could serve government and business leaders in addressing problems to more effectively order society. These concepts had been developing for some time before the IA had been founded (see McMillan, 1998b, chapter 2; 1998c).


Accountics or the science of accounts

Although the term “accountics” was likely first defined in 1887 by Colonel Charles Sprague in lectures at “the School of Library Economy at Columbia College” (“Mathematical Elucidation of Accounts., ” 1887, p. 103; also see McMillan, 1998b, p. 44; 1998c, pp. 18-19), many of the key notions supporting his vision had already been crystallized seven years earlier in his

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The Institute of Accounts: Nineteenth Century Origins of Accounting Professionalism in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Origins, Goals, Membership, and Professional Characteristics 7
  • 3 - Functionality of the Ia and Its Role in Professionalization 22
  • 4 - The Structure of Accounting Knowledge and the Natural Order of Society 28
  • 5 - Decline of the Ia 43
  • 6 - Legacy 60
  • Notes 68
  • References 76
  • Index 103
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