A Power and Knowledge Analysis of Indonesian Accounting History: Social, Political and Economic Forces Shaping the Emergence and Development of Accounting

Eko Ganis Sukoharsono
Dissertation

Central to this study is the belief that it is important to understand the development of accounting in its social context. Accounting is regarded not as a purely technical apparatus outside the realm of the social, but its knowledge and discipline have attached to a variety of contingent forms within society in the range of rationales and socio-political contexts. Through this understanding, the study seeks to explore the genealogy of accounting history in Indonesia. The aspect of accounting knowledge and discipline focused upon is its emergence and development, in the context of a ‘coming into the light’ of accounting in the form of a calculus discipline and socio-political knowledge during the Dutch colonisation of Indonesia. This involved a genealogical analysis of accounting in connection with the development of a new knowledge of writing and numerical notation (the Hindu-Arabic numerals) in Indonesia. The development of accounting in Indonesia is understood not as a ‘sudden’ process, but rather, genealogically, emerged through a long and complex process of history. Long before the arrival of the Dutch in Indonesia, accounting in the form of calculative practices had emerged having definite objects and objectives of calculations. The kingdom periods and the transformation of religious influences from Buddhism and Hinduism to Islam contributed to the development of accounting in Indonesia. During the early seventeenth century, Indonesia changed from a ruralindependent to a colonial society. This was due to the arrival of the Dutch in the Indonesian archipelago. ‘Colonialism’ determined Dutch policies in the archipelago. It is argued that the development of ‘advanced’ accounting as a complex form ofinformation-production, information-retrieval and systematic double-entry bookkeeping belongs to the period of Dutch colonialism in Indonesia. The Dutch used accounting as an institution and technique to discipline those w h o were subject to their influence. Accounting had an important role as a means of supporting the development of a colonial system in Indonesia. This study concludes that accounting during the period of Dutch colonisation played an important part by not only providing technical calculations (for example, assessing prices, cost and profit), but also diverse roles in social, economic and political life.

Department of Accountancy
University of Wolongong
1995
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