“This is England”: Punk rock’s realist/idealist dialectic and its implications for critical accounting education

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This paper studies the lyrics of two songs from the Clash, one of the two most important bands from the U.K.’s ‘first wave of punk’ scene. The paper interprets the songs within their institutional, social, economic and political context, i.e. pre-Thatcher and Thatcher Britain. I then draw out the implications of the Clash’s punk ideology for critical accounting educators today, and especially the implications for ethics education. The Clash’s message and moral compass are especially relevant today as (like the Clash’s England) both Bush’s America and an immediately post-Howard Australia have been vastly altered by a harsh neo-liberalism under which alternative (and especially collectivist) voices have been frequently mocked and suppressed. The Clash was able to simultaneously be both realist and idealist and, whilst this contradiction captured the hearts of many, the classic line-up of the band was to disintegrate under the weight of its own contradictions. The critical accounting community is reminded to continue to aspire to both aspects of the realist/idealist dialectic that is so vividly apparent in the Clash’s powerful and poignant early work and especially from the self-titled debut album up to Sandinista!
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-145
Number of pages19
JournalAccounting Forum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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