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Chapter 7 The Theory of Information Worlds and Information Behaviour

New Directions in Information Behaviour

ISBN: 978-1-78052-170-1, eISBN: 978-1-78052-171-8

Publication date: 5 October 2011


This chapter details the theory of information worlds and its relation to studies of information behaviour, providing a framework for examining information behaviour in a variety of settings. Since information and its related technologies impact every aspect of life in advanced societies, it is of great importance to create a stronger theoretical understanding of information beahviours across social contexts. Information behaviour is simultaneously shaped by immediate influences, such as friends, family and other trusted small world sources, and by larger social influences, including public sphere institutions, media, technology and politics. Information behaviours of all sorts are situated and contextualized, given meaning by the multi-tiered contexts within which they occur. Drawing on the works of Jürgen Habermas, who studied information flow across the largest social structures, and Elfreda Chatman, who focused on the smallest social units, the theory explores information behaviour across all of the levels –– the small worlds of everyday life, mediating social institutions and technologies, the concerns of an entire society and broad political and economic forces. After detailing antecedents and exploring the theory's core concepts, the chapter investigates the theory's relevance for research on information behaviour and discusses the theory in light of other approaches to studying information behaviour, arguing that it provides a strong foundation for understanding and analysing the complex interwoven contexts within which we interact with information.


Burnett, G. and Jaeger, P.T. (2011), "Chapter 7 The Theory of Information Worlds and Information Behaviour", Spink, A. and Heinström, J. (Ed.) New Directions in Information Behaviour (Library and Information Science, Vol. 1), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 161-180.



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