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‘All sorts and conditions of men’: the social origins of the founders of the ICAEW

Anderson, Malcolm and Walker, Stephen Paul 2009. ‘All sorts and conditions of men’: the social origins of the founders of the ICAEW. The British Accounting Review 41 (1) , pp. 31-45. 10.1016/

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The early organisation of accountants in Scotland during the 1850s and 1860s has excited the intellectual curiosity and research endeavour of a number of students of professionalisation. By contrast, until recently there was a dearth of academic interest in institutional developments in England and Wales during the 1870s and 1880s. Yet, organisations such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) which emanate from this period soon became the most significant players on the British professional scene and were to exert considerable influence on the development of accountancy institutions and professional ideologies in several locations. Exploiting a variety of genealogical sources this paper seeks to fill a void in the literature by analysing the social origins of the founding members of the principal professional association in England and Wales. It provides evidence of early chartered accountancy as a destination for long distance, upwardly mobile males, both intergenerationally and intragenerationally. The rate of self-recruitment among the founders of the ICAEW is shown to be low. The proportion of founders deriving from the upper and upper-middle classes is revealed to have been markedly less than that of their Scottish counterparts. The paper contributes to understandings of the complex professionalisation of British accountants, the extent of social mobility in Victorian Britain, the pathways to social advance in a class-based society, and illuminates the social complexion of one of the ‘new’ professions which emerged during the nineteenth century.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
Uncontrolled Keywords: Accountants; Social status; Social mobility; Professionalisation; Nineteenth century; Britain
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0890-8389
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2019 02:20

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