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Doing neoliberal things with words in libraries: Toward emending a discourse fashion in LIS

John Buschman (Department of University Libraries, Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey, USA)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to flesh out a truncated line of analysis in library and information science (LIS) of language analyses of power in the field.


Literature-based conceptual analysis of the problems engendered by neoliberalism in LIS and the productive approach of language analysis of Austin, Habermas, and Smith that allows us to account for neoliberalism’s effects in language and practices – doing things with words.


LIS has engaged a productive postmodern analysis of power relations that reflects social and economic progress, but Austin, Habermas, and Smith offer a sensible, practical explanation for the operation of neoliberal hegemony on the practices of librarianship.


Postmodern analyses are now being deployed in portions of LIS, but they fail to account for the full implications of the dominant public language (and policy and practices) of neoliberalism for librarianship. This is productive exploration of those implications to correct and round out those analyses.



Buschman, J. (2017), "Doing neoliberal things with words in libraries: Toward emending a discourse fashion in LIS", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 73 No. 4, pp. 595-617.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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