The Instrumentality of Information Needs and Relevance

  • Olof Sundin
  • Jenny Johannisson
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 3507)


An important question in Library and Information Science (LIS) is for what purpose information is sought; information seeking is not carried out for its own sake but to achieve an objective that lies beyond the practice of information seeking itself. Therefore, instrumentality could be seen as an overarching principle in the LIS field. Three different epistemological approaches to information needs and relevance, and the views on instrumentality that goes with them, are presented: the structure approach, the individual approach and the communication approach. The aim of the paper is to show how a communication oriented, neo-pragmatist epistemology enables research that in a dialogic manner highlights both the social contexts that information users are part of, and positions users as active contributors to the shaping of these contexts. The power relations that permeate these processes of negotiation between users and contexts are highlighted by introducing a Foucauldian perspective on power.


Structure Approach Individual Approach Knowledge Claim Information Seek Governing Practice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olof Sundin
    • 1
  • Jenny Johannisson
    • 1
  1. 1.Swedish School of Library and Information ScienceGöteborg University & University College of BoråsBoråsSweden

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