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Chapter 8 Towards Agency–Structure Integration: A Person-in-Environment (PIE) Framework for Modelling Individual-Level Information Behaviours and Outcomes

New Directions in Information Behaviour

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

ISSN: 1876-0562

Publication date: 5 October 2011

Abstract

This chapter introduces the Person-in-Environment (PIE) framework, a research design and a nationwide empirical study, developed by the author, to measure the relative impacts of socio-structural and personal factors on individual-level information behaviours (IB) and outcomes. The IB field needs to tackle two questions: (1) In a particular situation, how much of an individual's IB is influenced by personal characteristics? and (2) How much of this behaviour is shaped by one's environment, such as socio-structural barriers? PIE is a beginning effort to address this agency–structure debate, which is a topic that confronts many social scientists. This chapter first outlines IB research relevant to agency–structure integration. It then presents six principles of the PIE framework. Personal characteristics (e.g. cognitive and affective factors) and socio-structural factors (e.g. information resources distribution) are conceptualised as interrelated. Thus, these need to be tested simultaneously. Previously, it was difficult to link individual- and societal-level datasets because their units of observation often vary. To overcome these methodological challenges, this author purposed a research design that employs secondary analysis, geographic information systems techniques and structural equation modelling. An empirical study of the library usage by 13,000 American 12th graders is presented to demonstrate PIE's applicability. Discussions on the future directions of PIE studies conclude the chapter. The PIE framework can contribute to conceptual and methodological development in IB research. It also offers scholars and policymakers a way to empirically assess the contributions of information services on an individual's life, while taking personal differences into account.

Citation

Joanna Sin, S.-C. (2011), "Chapter 8 Towards Agency–Structure Integration: A Person-in-Environment (PIE) Framework for Modelling Individual-Level Information Behaviours and Outcomes", Spink, A. and Heinström, J. (Ed.) New Directions in Information Behaviour (Library and Information Science, Vol. 1), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 181-209. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1876-0562(2011)002011a011

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited