The forms of repetition in social and environmental reports: Insights from Hume's notion of 'impressions'

C. Pesci, E. Costa, T. Soobaroyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper focuses on the use of repetition, both in narrative and visual forms, in social and environmental reports. It investigates the forms of repetition as a rhetorical device adopted by the preparer of a social and environmental report in helping the process of knowledge acquisition, as outlined by Hume [1739. A Treatise of Human Nature. Available from:]. Drawing from Hume's (1739) philosophical idea of an ‘impression’, and the work of Davison [2014a. Visual rhetoric and the case of intellectual capital. Accounting Organization and Society, 39 (1), 20–37], we classify repetitions into ‘identical’, ‘similar', and ‘accumulated’ forms. It is argued that the rationale for distinguishing between the different forms of repetition can be linked to their different potential or intensity in acting on different stimuli with a view to enhance learning. The empirical element of this study is based on the stand-alone social and environmental reports of a sample of 86 cooperative banks (CBs) in Northern Italy; the analysis of these reports indicates that repetition is widespread and that CBs use all forms of repetition, albeit to a varying extent within the different reported themes. The paper contributes to the literature by offering an alternative interpretation of repetition using an interdisciplinary perspective and by providing new insights on social and environmental reporting practices in the cooperative banking sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-800
JournalAccounting and Business Research
Issue number6-7
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2015


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