Classification is an important process in making sense of the world, and has a pronounced social dimension. This paper aims to compare folksonomy, a new social classification system currently being developed on the web, with conventional taxonomy in the light of theoretical sociological and anthropological approaches. The co‐existence of these two types of classification system raises the questions: Will and should taxonomies be hybridized with folksonomies? What can each of these systems contribute to information‐searching processes, and how can the sociology of knowledge provide an answer to these questions? This paper aims also to address these issues.
This paper is situated at the meeting point of the sociology of knowledge, epistemology and information science and aims at examining systems of classification in the light of both classical theory and current late‐modern sociological and anthropological approaches.
Using theoretical approaches current in the sociology of science and knowledge, the paper envisages two divergent possible outcomes.
While concentrating on classifications systems, this paper addresses the more general social issue of what we know and how it is known. The concept of hybrid knowledge is suggested in order to illuminate the epistemological basis of late‐modern knowledge being constructed by hybridizing contradictory modern knowledge categories, such as the subjective with the objective and the social with the natural. Integrating tree‐like taxonomies with folksonomies or, in other words, generating a naturalized structural order of objective relations with social, subjective classification systems, can create a vast range of hybrid knowledge.
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