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A grounded theory of information exclusion and information inclusion: framing the information experience of people seeking asylum

Kahina Le Louvier (Department of Computer and Information Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Perla Innocenti (Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 9 August 2022

Issue publication date: 6 March 2023




This paper discusses an original theory of information exclusion and information inclusion, which explains how information interactions can be structured in ways that either exclude or include people seeking asylum.


This theory was developed through an ethnographic study of the information experience of people seeking asylum in the United Kingdom. Fieldwork involved participant observations, participatory research workshops and semi-structured interviews, analysed using a constructivist grounded theory approach.


People seeking asylum are confronted with two main information environments: the asylum system and the local third sector. Each environment frames contrasting information access, sharing and literacy practice modalities: the former produces information deprivation, information sharing agency denial and a fracturing information literacy practice; the latter facilitates multiple information affordances, information sharing agency promotion, and both local and heritage information literacy practice promotion. Our theory of information exclusion and information inclusion describes how through these modalities, an information environment can either promote or preclude inclusion.


Previous information studies of migration tend to conceptualise social ex/inclusion as a linear journey. Our theory originally frames this as a non-straightforward and conflicting process, allowing to better understand the experience of people who are not simply either socially excluded or included, but may experience both states depending on context. It also shows that exclusion is not a matter of fact and is not fundamental to asylum systems: it is produced by specific policies and procedures and can therefore be changed. Thus, this theory provides conceptual tools for researchers to investigate the information experience of individuals moving between conflicting information practices, and for civil society actors and policymakers to document exclusionary information practices and design inclusive ones.



The authors are grateful to Ian Ruthven (University of Strathclyde) for his helpful comments on this research, and to the University of Northumbria for supporting the investigation. Our deepest thanks to all the participants in this study for giving their time and sharing their experiences.


Le Louvier, K. and Innocenti, P. (2023), "A grounded theory of information exclusion and information inclusion: framing the information experience of people seeking asylum", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 79 No. 2, pp. 468-486.



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