AM Posters 2009 START Conference Manager    

Critical Ethnography for Information Research in Diverse Contexts

Lai Ma

(Submission #33)


Abstract

Research in Library and Information Science (LIS) often involves the use of various types of information and information technology in diverse contexts. As such, although most information research is oriented towards some kind of problem-solving, it is apparent that its nature is not purely technical as many have perceived. In particular, research areas such as “information use” and “information behavior” are concerned with problem-solving in social spaces where cultural forms and social situations—what we usually call “contexts”—must be investigated and clarified. These cultural forms and social situations, however, cannot be viewed as some kind of background or container where activities and interactions occur, nor are they causes that effect certain kinds of information behavior. Rather, they should be viewed as “affordances” which bring forth, for example, user needs and technology uses (see Day and Ma, 2009). The search for affordances and the analyses of the interrelationship between interactions (human-human and human-computer) and cultural forms and social situations beg for a methodological framework that allows critical and conceptual analyses, on the one hand, and is empirical in which the understanding of the cultural and the social are central concerns, on the other. Critical ethnography is a critical and empirical research methodology that encompasses these two criteria. In this poster, I will illustrate major features of critical ethnography and an example of a research design using the critical-ethnographic framework.


  
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