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Hierarchies of action: a concept for library and information science

Bonna Jones (School of Business Information Technology, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 26 July 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to bring the concept of a “hierarchy of action”, as it is currently being used in other fields, into library and information science (LIS).

Design/methodology/approach

Hierarchy theory is adopted to describe three hierarchies of action, which include the human processes of semantic and social innovation, as well as a system of biological interpretence, from which human processes are thought to have evolved as a development of biosemiosis in nature. By way of example, it is argued that a text is a complex achievement, and hierarchy theory shows how to account for this complexity; the everyday definition of “text” is augmented with accounts from different levels of observation.

Findings

The concept of a hierarchy of action enables a person to account for a text as a meaning/symbolic product; include in that account the processes whereby texts are produced and used; and say why these processes are important to the health of the biosphere that is called home.

Originality/value

“Hierarchy of action” has been developed as a concept in biology and ecology; it belongs to a way of thinking whereby human reality, like nature, is construed as dynamical processes operating in symbiotic relationship with each other; it has not yet been adopted in LIS with reference to hierarchy theory and its potential is yet to be explored.

Keywords

Citation

Jones, B. (2011), "Hierarchies of action: a concept for library and information science", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 67 No. 4, pp. 695-709. https://doi.org/10.1108/00220411111145052

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited