Migration and the neoliberal state: accounting ethics in the Italian response to the refugee crisis

Daniela Pianezzi, Lino Cinquini, Giuseppe Grossi, Massimo Sargiacomo

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This research adds to sparse accounting literature on immigration by problematizing the intertwined relationship between accounting and ethics in the neoliberal era. It explains ethical paradoxes inherent in the neoliberal project and how these unfold in the accounting practices deployed by the Italian state to handle the ongoing refugee crisis. Our analysis shows how the State’s proclaimed conviction to the human right cause turned out to be neoliberal in nature. On the one hand, the use of accounting was indeed partially dictated by the State’s mission of constructing the neoliberal citizen. On the other hand, accounting practices mainly prioritized efficiency over care and reflected the unwillingness of the State to enact responsibility for immigrants' human rights. We conclude that the use of accounting epitomizes complementary rather than opposing forms of neoliberalism and ultimately unveils the inability of the State to offer a humanitarian response to the immigration crisis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAccounting Forum
Publication statusPublished - 2021-Aug

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Business Administration (50202)


  • accounting
  • ethics
  • Italy
  • Migration
  • neoliberalism


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