ASIS&T 2014 Annual Meeting 
Seattle, WA | October 31 - November 5, 2014

Considerations on the Social Role of the Document According to Paul Otlet

Amanda Pacini de Moura
University of S„o Paulo, Brazil

Sunday, Nov. 2, 3:30pm


This study aims to assess Paul Otletís (1868-1944) understanding of the social role of the document, addressing the question of why he considers it to be an essential element for the ordering of social relations. It examines Otletís claims regarding the documentís place and functions in the social sphere in light of his expositions on the nature of the social dynamics of conflict, cooperation and development, with special attention to the use of analogies for social organization. It concludes that Otletís social role for the document was a consequence of his belief that social bonds should be progressively based on voluntary human action and on the establishment of social accord, instead of just being a byproduct of survival, functionality or constraint. The formation of consensus demanded the awareness of reality that in an increasingly internationalized society could only be provided by the documentís performance as a carrier of ideas. This article argues that Otletís contemporary appraisal by Information Science still needs to fully consider how the element of internationalism played out in the configuration of what we consider presently to be his contributions to the field, and aims therefore at contributing to its advancement by further analyzing the perspective of international social cooperation, collaboration and connection which characterized Otletís internationalist view of documentation.