James, Kieran (2010) Who am I? Where are we? Where do we go from here?: Marxism, voice, representation, and synthesis. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 21 (8). pp. 696-710. ISSN 1045-2354
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Recently Kim (2008) and Chua (1998) have warned critical accounting researchers of the dangers involved in oral history research in accounting involving a privileged researcher(s) and a cultural or racial 'other'. The end result of this research often is that the researcher gets a promotion and a pay rise whilst the others remain in the same position that they were in before the research. These warnings are extremely important and should be the source of much personal reflection and even agonizing on the part of those researchers that do this type of research. However, I argue that Kim’s negative tone, whilst justified in a polemic, should not discourage researchers to the extent that they shy away from compassionate explorations of topics involving the other in favour of 'safer' capital markets or other mainstream accounting research. Those researchers writing from a Marxist perspective will continue to see the primary source of exploitation as the capitalist production process and its extraction of surplus-value from the workers without payment. This does not mean that such researchers somehow 'ignore race' although some types of racist acts Marxism finds hard to explain satisfactorily. To illustrate these arguments, I present a case study of the legendary 1970s punk musician and philosopher Joe Strummer of the Clash to suggest how a compassionate and authentic individual can meaningfully and boldly address issues of the other and the exploitation that they face within a Marxist framework. The maturation and increased sophistication of Strummer’s lyrics by 1978 suggest that young artists (and researchers) need to be permitted the opportunity to make mistakes and to grow as part of their own existentialist personal journeys.
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