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Debt to SocietyAccounting for Life under Capitalism$
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Miranda Joseph

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780816687411

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816687411.001.0001

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Accounting for Justice

Accounting for Justice

Beyond Liberal Calculations of Debt and Crime

(p.29) 2 Accounting for Justice
Debt to Society

Miranda Joseph

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines the intertwined transformations of criminal justice and debt management coincident with the growing centrality of accounting in questions of debt and crime in the United States during the nineteenth century. Noting the frequent contemporary deployments of numerical accounts by social justice advocates, it considers the emergence of the interconnected strategies of knowledge production and inscription, of juridical and financial accounting, that underscored the modern regime for the constitution and management of “criminals” and “debtors”—categories that generate social, and especially racial, hierarchies. Drawing on Jacques Derrida’s critique of liberal “law” (as opposed to “justice”) in his 1992 essay “Force of Law,” the chapter articulates the “force” of accounting and goes on to discuss some important efforts to critique and promote alternative modes of accounting, including social accounting and restorative justice, that might be more just or at least more enabling of social justice efforts.

Keywords:   criminal justice, debt, crime, debt management, social justice, juridical accounting, financial accounting, criminals, debtors, social accounting

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