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Pairing information with poverty: traces of development discourse in LIS

Jutta Haider (Department of Information Science, City University London, London, UK)
David Bawden (Department of Information Science, City University London, London, UK)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 1 September 2006




The purpose of this research is to investigate and critically assess the notions of “information poverty” in LIS by highlighting its connections with development discourse.


The article takes a discourse analysis approach, which starts from Michel Foucault's understanding of discourse. “Information poverty” is posited as a statement and investigated in its relation to other statements. The focus is on discursive procedures that emerge from the repeated connections between statements. The article draws on the interpretative analysis of 35 English language articles published in scholarly and professional LIS journals between 1995 and 2005.


“Information poverty” and the “information poor” are established as being assigned specific positions in the discourse of LIS as the result of overlapping, sometimes conflicting discursive procedures. The concept emerges as a possibility in LIS by anchoring it in the dominant discourse of development. Traces of development discourse surface in LIS and contribute to the legitimisation of the concept of “information poverty” by lending it authority.

Research limitations/implications

The material selection is linguistically biased. Results and findings are fully applicable only in an English language context.


The article relates the professional discourse of LIS to the dominant discourse of development and thus highlights some of the assumptions upon which the concept of “information poverty” is built. Moreover, the article is intended to contribute to the further development of discourse analysis in LIS.



Haider, J. and Bawden, D. (2006), "Pairing information with poverty: traces of development discourse in LIS", New Library World, Vol. 107 No. 9/10, pp. 371-385.



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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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