On the scope and significance of the Venetian accounting innovations from the Sixteenth Century: pedagogic practices, accounting statements and modes of thinking and acting

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The medieval and Renaissance Italian innovations in accounting and management forms are rich and significant, and particularly so, we shall argue here, in their Venetian manifestations. We focus on three particular innovations in this chapter, all with a significant Venetian dimension, and consider in particular their development from the sixteenth century on. In so doing, we seek to identify some key similarities, or even homologies, that run across these innovations, and thereby to pose the question of how these innovations—each of which takes place in a different setting and enacts or makes visible a different aspect or form of accounting—may nevertheless be understood as three aspects of one more general development: a development which we shall characterize here at its most general level as being a new ‘mode of thinking and acting’, which remakes both humans as subjects and the objects which they now come to name as central or regular features of thought, knowledge and so of the world as lived. We also, having developed that possibility, seek to ask a related or consequent question—namely, how far are these innovations, once thought of as three aspects of one transformation in our human ways of thinking and acting, to be read as anticipations or precursors of modern forms of accounting? Or to put the question at a more general level: do these innovations lead or graft directly onto the modern, or is there a subsequent shift in our ways of thinking and acting, of such a transformative kind as to lead to us as human subjects today thinking about both the scope and the specificity of accounting differently than in this Venetian past? Which leads to a more general question still: to what extent are we therefore engaged as subjects in constructing and inhabiting a series of different structures and processes through which accounting is practised and accounting statements articulated in historically differentiable ways, in different eras and places? In other words, how are we to read both the past and the present of accounting?


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Origins of Accounting Culture
Subtitle of host publicationThe Venetian Connection
EditorsMassimo Sargiacomo, Stefano Coronella, Chiara Mio, Ugo Sostero, Roberto Di Pietra
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2018


  • Accounting, Education, Arsenale, inquiry, modern management