The SEC's retail investor 2.0: interactive data and the rise of calculative accountability

Lowe, Alan, Locke, Joanne and Lymer, Andy 2012, The SEC's retail investor 2.0: interactive data and the rise of calculative accountability, Critical perspectives on accounting, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 183-200, doi: 10.1016/

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Title The SEC's retail investor 2.0: interactive data and the rise of calculative accountability
Author(s) Lowe, Alan
Locke, JoanneORCID iD for Locke, Joanne
Lymer, Andy
Journal name Critical perspectives on accounting
Volume number 23
Issue number 3
Start page 183
End page 200
Total pages 18
Publisher Elsevier
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publication date 2012-04
ISSN 1045-2354
Summary The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States mandated a new digital reporting system for US companies in late 2008. The new generation of information provision has been dubbed by Chairman Cox, ‘interactive data’ (SEC, 2006a). Despite the promise of its name, we find that in the development of the project retail investors are invoked as calculative actors rather than engaged in dialogue. Similarly, the potential for the underlying technology to be applied in ways to encourage new forms of accountability appears to be forfeited in the interests of enrolling company filers.We theorise the activities of the SEC and in particular its chairman at the time, Christopher Cox, over a three year period, both prior to and following the ‘credit crisis’. We argue that individuals and institutions play a central role in advancing the socio-technical project that is constituted by interactive data. We adopt insights from ANT (Callon, 1986, Latour, 1987 and Latour, 2005b) and governmentality (Miller, 2008 and Miller and Rose, 2008) to show how regulators and the proponents of the technology have acted as spokespersons for the interactive data technology and the retail investor. We examine the way in which calculative accountability has been privileged in the SEC's construction of the retail investor as concerned with atomised, quantitative data (Kamuf, 2007, Roberts, 2009 and Tsoukas, 1997). We find that the possibilities for the democratising effects of digital information on the Internet has not been realised in the interactive data project and that it contains risks for the very investors the SEC claims to seek to protect.
Language eng
DOI 10.1016/
Field of Research 150101 Accounting Theory and Standards
1501 Accounting, Auditing And Accountability
Socio Economic Objective 890399 Information Services not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2012, Elsevier
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Business and Law
Department of Accounting
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