In search of analytical categories between the holism and contextuality of information behaviour

Submitted by Isto Huvila on Tue, 10/09/2018 - 15:27

Poster at the Annual SIG-USE research symposium, Vancouver, BC.


Information behaviour research has moved from a strong focus on scholarly and professional focus to embrace leisurely and everyday information practices from the 1990s onwards, and further to underline first the deep contextuality and later on the cross-contextuality of how people interact with information. Information behaviour is situational and contextual but at the same time it is a holistic and information or life world wide phenomenon. Even if these have been important steps in advancing our understanding how people interact with information in different situations, the both approaches come with a risk of overemphasising either the uniqueness of individual situations and the boundlessness of information work.

The aim of this poster is to scope why, how and when to (re)introduce categorisations in the information behaviour field, and what types of categorisations would be analytically useful. The work draws on the work conducted in the context of the COST Action Archaeological practices and knowledge work in the digital environment ARKWORK ( for scoping what eventually could count as archaeological practices and knowledge work to develop preliminary conceptualisations of work related categories of information behaviour related to work information, workplace information and work-related information to interrogate and exemplify the possibilities of such categorisations. The poster proposes that instead of considering such categories as bounded sets it could be more useful to think of them as centred sets with a certain affinity, distance and direction to specific contexts.