This study aims to build an integrative framework for explaining society's information access disparity, which takes both structure and agency as well as their interactions into consideration.
It adopts a qualitative survey design. It collects data on the development of 65 individuals' information access through interviews, and analyzes the data following grounded theory principles.
A theoretical framework is established based on seven constructs and their relationships, all emerging from the empirical data. It rediscovers practice as the primary structural force shaping individuals' information access, hence society's information access disparity; it shows, meanwhile, that the effect of practice is mediated and/or interrupted by four agentic factors: affective responses to a practice, strategic move between practices, experiential returns of information, and quadrant state of mind.
It urges LIS researchers to go beyond the embedded information activities to examine both the embedded and embedding, beyond actions to examine both actions and experiences.
It calls for information professionals to take a critical stance toward the practices they serve and partake in their reforms from an LIS perspective.
The framework provides an integrative and novel explanation for information access disparity; it adds a number of LIS-relevant concepts to the general practice theories, highlighting the significance of embedded information activities in any practice and their reverberations; it also appears able to connect a range of human-related LIS theories and pinpoint their gaps.
This study is funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71273141 and 71974103). Two shorter versions of this paper were presented at The Symposium on Theories of Information Disparity in Society and The Symposium on Theories of Information Access Disparity in Society” held in the Business School, Nankai University, Tianjin, China, on 25-28 October 2017 and 24-28 October 2019 respectively. The authors thank the participants of the two symposiums for questions and comments. The authors would also like to thank the referees of this paper for their very critical and insightful comments which inspired dramatic rewriting of the manuscript.
Yu, L., Zhou, W. and Wang, J. (2020), "A structure–agency integrative framework for information access disparity : Rediscovery of practice in dividing society's information rich and poor", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 76 No. 4, pp. 829-848. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-05-2019-0097
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