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Pragmatism, neo‐pragmatism and sociocultural theory: Communicative participation as a perspective in LIS

Olof Sundin (The Swedish School of Library and Information Science, Göteborg University and University College of Borås, Sweden)
and
Jenny Johannisson (The Swedish School of Library and Information Science, Göteborg University and University College of Borås, Sweden)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 1 February 2005

Abstract

Purpose

To show that the neo‐pragmatist position of Richard Rorty, when combined with a sociocultural perspective, provides library and information science (LIS) with a forceful epistemological tool.

Design/methodology/approach

Literature‐based conceptual analysis of: historical development of pragmatism in relation to other epistemological positions; neo‐pragmatism as a non‐dualist, both purpose and communication oriented, epistemology; and a sociocultural perspective within pedagogy, originated from the Russian researcher Lev Vygotsky.

Findings

Brought together, a neo‐pragmatist, sociocultural perspective contributes to a focus on people's actions through the use of linguistic and physical tools. As a tangible example of how neo‐pragmatism can be applied as an epistemological tool within LIS, information seeking seen as communicative participation is discussed. This article unites a perspective on information seeking as communicative participation with the neo‐pragmatist concepts of “tools” and “communities of justification”. The article is concluded by an assessment of neo‐pragmatism as an epistemological position within LIS, including those research issues that arise from this position and that are introduced along the way.

Practical implications

In its focus on usability, the neo‐pragmatist position provides a possible bridge between academic and other professional practices in the field of LIS.

Originality/value

Provides, through the means of neo‐pragmatism, an argument for the necessity of epistemological argumentation within LIS.

Keywords

Citation

Sundin, O. and Johannisson, J. (2005), "Pragmatism, neo‐pragmatism and sociocultural theory: Communicative participation as a perspective in LIS", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 61 No. 1, pp. 23-43. https://doi.org/10.1108/00220410510577998

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited