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Information need, information seeking behaviour and participation, with special reference to needs related to citizenship: results of a national survey

Rita Marcella (School of Information and Media, The Robert Gordon University Garthdee Road, Aberdeen AB10 7QE)
Graeme Baxter (School of Information and Media, The Robert Gordon University Garthdee Road, Aberdeen AB10 7QE)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 1 April 2000

Abstract

This paper reports the results of the second stage of the Citizenship Information research project funded by the BLR&IC: a nation‐wide survey, by personal doorstep interview, of the citizenship information needs of almost 900 members of the UK public. Major findings include: that the public obtain most of their information on current issues via the mass media, and that they generally feel well informed on these issues. The public feel, however, that government is not doing enough to inform them on European Monetary Union and on local government cutbacks. Small proportions of the sample had encountered problems concerning employment, education, housing or welfare benefits, and had consulted a range of information sources in order to overcome these problems. Over a quarter of respondents had experienced disadvantage through a lack of access to information. The majority of respondents felt well informed about areas relating to citizenship, but significant proportions were poorly informed in legal rights, welfare benefits and local politics. A highly significant majority (91.7 per cent) believed that freedom of information was important for exercising their rights as citizens. Respondents tended to overestimate their voting patterns, but there was little evidence of participation in other forms of political activity. Although access to computers in the home is presently limited, the majority of respondents would use computers to vote, convey opinions to government and obtain government information. Public libraries were the preferred source of government information, and were seen as appropriate locations for a range of other types of citizenship information.

Keywords

Citation

Marcella, R. and Baxter, G. (2000), "Information need, information seeking behaviour and participation, with special reference to needs related to citizenship: results of a national survey", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 56 No. 2, pp. 136-160. https://doi.org/10.1108/EUM0000000007112

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