COVID-19 and the governmentality of emergency food in the City of Turin

Massimo Sargiacomo*, Laura Corazza, Antonio D'Andreamatteo, John Dumay, James Guthrie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: This paper shows the accounting, accountability and calculative practices associated with emergency food allocations by the City of Turin through a program to feed the vulnerable during COVID-19. 

Design/methodology/approach: This is a single case study framed by Foucault's governmentality concept. The data was collected through interviews with key institutional actors and triangulated against decrees, circulars, ordinances and other publicly available documents.

Findings: The accounting tools of governmentality are always incomplete. Sometimes unique situations and crises help us to revise and improve the tools we have. Other times, they demand entirely new tools. 

Research limitations/implications: Accounting needs both things to count and a context to count them. In the case of food assistance, what is counted is people. In Turin's case, many people had never been counted – either because there was no need or because they were unaccounted for by choice. Now, the government was accountable for the welfare of both. Thus, new classification systems emerged, as did organisational and accounting solutions.

Originality/value: Although the accounting-for-disasters literature is diverse, studies too often favour the macro social, economic and political issues surrounding crises, neglecting the micro issues associated with governmentality and calculative practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1457-1470
Number of pages14
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number6
Early online date11 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright © Massimo Sargiacomo, Laura Corazza, Antonio D’Andreamatteo, John Dumay and James Guthrie. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Accounting
  • Calculations
  • COVID-19
  • Food
  • Governmentality
  • Turin Italy
  • Vulnerable population


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