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Making up users – An essay

Within recent years, financial statement users have been accorded great significance by accounting standard-setters. In the United States, the conceptual framework maintains that a primary purpose of financial statements is to provide information useful to investors and creditors in making their economic decisions. Contemporary accounting textbooks unproblematically posit this purpose for accounting. Yet, this emphasis is quite recent and occurred despite limited knowledge about the information needs and decision processes of actual users of financial statements. This paper unpacks the taken-for-grantedness of the primacy of financial statement users in standard-setting and considers their use as a category to justify and denigrate particular accounting disclosures and practices. It traces how particular ideas about financial statement users and their connection to accounting standard setting have been constructed in various documents and reports including the conceptual framework and accounting standards.