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Professionalism and the accounting profession - Essay Example

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Professionalism and the accounting profession

The last section provides a personal interpretation of accountancy as a profession. Accountancy as a Profession The rise of professionalism in the United Kingdom is an issue that has gained much emphasis in the literature. The discourse comprises basic issues like what makes up a profession and how professionalism is attained (Lal, 1988). The discourse about how professions have reached their current status has evolved significantly over time, somewhat demonstrating different ideological or theoretical perspectives. Until the 1960s, the dominant theoretical perspective among social scientists exploring the professions was structural-functionalism or functionalism (Jones, 1995). They, largely inspired by the works of Emile Durkheim, look at the role of certain phenomena in cultural and social processes. Structural-functionalism assumes that the development of institutions and, for that matter, professions, usually was a normal outcome of the fact that they played functional or purposeful roles in society (Roslender, 1992). This explanation, when used in the discourse of the professions, involved examining the array of functions carried out by professionals, and resulted in a complementary and imperceptive traits-based model of the professions. The trait-based paradigm comprises a set of theoretically distinct characteristics or qualities, like responsibility and broad knowledge, which are believed to embody the core attributes of a profession. The trait model is characterised by a particular disagreement amongst its advocates as regards the exact arrangement of components distinctive to professions (Larson, 2012). This is a problem which the ahistorical functionalist model of the professions has successfully avoided. Functionalists believe that the core elements of a profession are commonly restricted to those believed to be of practical or purposeful importance for the client-professional relationship or the society in general (Roslender, 1992). The manner in which accountancy has attained its professional status is also the emphasis of contemporary literature and debate. Most of the established histories of accountancy are classified under functionalism (Cherreson, 2003). Several scholars have argued that the histories of major professional accountancy organisations, like the Society of Incorporated Accountants and Auditors (ICWA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), “tend to assume not only that accountants are supremely necessary to society but also that the major factor enabling their current success has been their form of professional association” (Matthews, Anderson, & Edwards, 1998, p. 4). Furthermore, according to Matthews and colleagues (1998), several British scholars view accountancy as evidently an essential instrument for guaranteeing the most favourable yield or best productivity in any economy. According to trait-based perspective, the emergence of professional organisations was a natural, and smooth, development intended to furnish professionals with the training or education needed to help them carry out vital functions in society. Because the title ‘profession’ was mostly confined to law, medicine, and the Church until the early 19th century, professions were eventually characterised as altruistic, functional, institutions (Brown, ...Show more

Summary

Professionalism and the Accounting Profession Introduction The history of accountancy has revealed how this field evolved from a mere occupation into a widely recognised profession. Four theoretical paradigms are particularly relevant in understanding the professionalisation of accountancy: trait-based model, functionalism, Weberian tradition, and Marxist perspective…
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