While applied broadly within the setting of accounting and some other occupations, “a profession” is a particularly Western concept with peculiarly British origins. Additionally, the significance of such status and the process of “professionalisation” by which it is acquired remain beset by lingering uncertainties. Examination of the sociology of the accounting occupation within non-Western locations can contribute to exposing and clarifying these problematic and contingent aspects of occupational stratification, as well as assist in redressing the bias towards English-speaking and European countries within the accounting history literature. Proceeding from these theoretical premises, a historical and comparative study of the accounting occupation within China is undertaken. This seeks to integrate the world’s most populous nation into the historical narrative of the professionalisation of accounting, and reinforces – often vividly – that accountants’ work status is not bound to any predetermined trajectory which is innate to the occupation. Instead, the variety of localised and time-specific variables which constitute the occupational context are shown to exert a dominating influence.
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Field of Research
150199 Accounting, Auditing and Accountability not elsewhere classified