Genres and situational appropriation of information

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Isto Huvila


Journal of Documentation, Volume 75, Number 6, p.1503-1527 (2019)


Genre, information behaviour, information needs, information practices, information seeking, information work, Not-seeking, Scaffolding, Situational appropriation


Purpose Information science research has begun to broaden its traditional focus on information seeking to cover other modes of acquiring information. The purpose of this paper is to move forward on this trajectory and to present a framework for explicating how in addition to being sought, existing information are made useful and taken into use. Design/methodology/approach A conceptual enquiry draws on an empirical vignette based on an observation study of an archaeological teaching excavation. The conceptual perspective builds on Andersens genre approach and Huvilas notion of situational appropriation. Findings This paper suggests that information becomes appropriable, and appropriated (i.e. taken into use), when informational and social genres intertwine with each other. This happens in a continuous process of (re)appropriation of information where existing information scaffolds new information and the on-going process of appropriation. Originality/value The approach is proposed as a potentially powerful conceptualisation for explicating information interactions when existing information is taken into use rather than sought that have received little attention in traditional models and theories of human information behaviour.

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