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Pol03c


Beyond 'audit cultures'? New critical approaches to accountability, responsibility, and metrics III 
Convenors:
Ben Eyre (University of Manchester)
Piyush Pushkar (University of Manchester)
Aneil Tripathy (University of Bologna)
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Discussants:
Marc Brightman (Università di Bologna)
Marilyn Strathern (Cambridge University)
Chika Watanabe (University of Manchester)
Stream:
Politics and Power
Format:
Panel Workshop
Sessions:
Tuesday 22 June, 16:15-18:00 (UTC+3)

Short Abstract:

This panel and workshop facilitates conversation about next steps for ethnography of audit and accountability practices. We take forward the project of interrogating the power of audit cultures as well as attending to its limits.

Long Abstract

Studies of "audit culture" (Power 1997; Strathern 2000) have exposed regimes of truth in which quantitative indicators have become increasingly pervasive. Such measurements have become important as instruments for institutions to use within their internal governance, and in external representations to the public, to employees, and to 'beneficiaries'. Moreover, people have been encouraged to understand their responsibilities as individuals through a prism of accountability conceived through calculable inputs and outputs.

Emerging trends in global health, green and social finance, and academia reveal transformations in audit practices. New conceptions of responsibility (Shore 2017) and accountability (Reubi 2018) raise new questions for anthropologists. As well as documenting the impact of encroaching audit practices and technologies, anthropologists have begun to draw attention to their ambiguities, and even opportunities. Critical responses have been supplemented by attention to 'metrics work' (Adams 2015). Others suggest opportunities for ethnographers to engage outside the audit culture critique (McLellan 2020).

Our panel facilitates a conversation about next steps for ethnography of audit and accountability practices. We take forward the project of interrogating the power of audit cultures as well as attending to its limits. Key questions include:

How does discussion of different meanings of 'responsibility' and 'accountability' enrich the debate?

What role do suspicion and mistrust, resistance and rule-breaking play?

How do different actors engage with the opportunities and constraints of audit cultures?

How are existing power structures, upheld or subverted by quantification, monitoring, and evaluation technologies?

Accepted contributions: