This paper takes its inspiration from Voth's [2000] work on Time and Work in England, 1750–1830 which argues that the British industrial revolution led to greater production levels not because of an increase in the productivity of labor but because of the larger amount of hours worked per week. This change led to a decrease of free time in favor of worked time. If this was the case, one might argue, accounting played a marginal role either in increasing the efficiency of the work force, or in disciplining the shop floor to guarantee control of the labor process. This paper argues that if accounting is to gain a crucial position in the history of economies and societies ‘time’ needs to be expressly posited on the agenda of accounting historians for, at the moment, it seems that the link between time and accounting history is missing. The aim of the paper is to show that if a linear, neutral and objective view of time is abandoned then the possibilities to study the organizational, social and even political roles of accounting will proliferate. This view is illustrated by moving from linear views of ‘time’ (‘time spent’) to more relative and constructed conceptions (‘time counted’).

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