The Accounting Historians Journal Vol. 8, No. 2 Fall 1981
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI
THE CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF ACCOUNTS-THE PHILOSOPHY OF DR SCOTT
Abstract: DR Scott was an economist, historian, philosopher, and accountant. Most of all he was a scholar who merged some of the most up-to-date ideas of the 1920s into his book The Cultural Significance of Accounts. He concluded that our culture was in a time of relative turmoil because the market was no longer the primary controlling force within our institutions. Accounting as the vehicle of the scientific method would replace the market as the synthesis of institutions which make up our culture.
Evidence suggests that the outcome foretold by DR Scott in 1931—that American society would witness the use of Accounting as a principal means of political and economic control—seems to have come to pass in the contemporary "Bottom-Line" culture of the 1970s.1
The purpose of this article is to explain how DR Scotta reached the conclusion quoted above. DR Scott can fairly be described as an economist, historian, philosopher, and accountant. Most of all he was a scholar who brought together knowledge from all those disciplines and merged them into a new view of accounting. The discussion which follows is a synopsis of his most important con-tribution, The Cultural Significance of Accounts. In reading the following, one must remember the ideas were expressed during the late 1920s. The reader should not expect revelations from the following because Scott, by his own statement, was only suggest-ing a way of thinking about accounting.
Scott joined the faculty of the newly established College of Com-merce at the University of Missouri in 1914 as an Assistant Pro-fessor of Economics. By 1920 he had been promoted through the ranks to Professor of Economics. In 1930 his title changed to Pro-fessor of Accounting and Statistics and he was appointed Chair-
aTypists and copy editors always have problems with the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Scott named their son DR, spelled with two capital letters not separated by punc-uation or blanks.