Chatman Revisited: Re-examining and Resituating Social Theories of Identity, Access, and Marginalization in LIS
Elfreda Chatman’s work was among the first in information science to thoroughly and explicitly address information access and marginalization as social processes. In defining her theories of Information Poverty, Life in the Round, and Normative Behavior, Chatman introduced a number of important concepts to the discussion around information poverty and access, including social norms, small worlds, and defensive information behaviors. While Chatman’s work began to describe the form and implications of power and social influence for information seeking and access, it was limited by many of the same commitments to colorblindness and the assumption of neutrality as other contemporaneous works of the time. Often sidestepping examination of race, sexuality, and gender identity, it more commonly cited other factors, such stigma, income, and specific social norms and values as contributing to information access and poverty. This perspective made sense in light of the epistemic LIS culture that emphasized colorblindness and individuality and demonstrated a tenuous relationship with race, or “demographic” categories and concerns.
Continued theoretical development in critical race, gender, and disability studies have contributed to a recent resurgence in theory and research related to structures of marginalization in librarianship, information science, computing, and technology. We believe that it is time for collective re-examination and continued development of Chatman’s theories, and that this new work should wrestle openly with issues related to identity, marginalization, and access.
We invite authors from a broad range of professional and academic perspectives to contribute to this special issue of JCLIS. This issue will explore the question, “How do identity and social structures (such as power, privilege, and policy) combine to enact systems of information access and marginalization?” The issue will be a combination of empirical research, theoretical development, commentaries, and case studies. It will include a combination of qualitative and quantitative works, and will engage critical race, gender, and disability theory in its consideration of the topic.
Possible questions and topics include (but are not limited to) the following:
- What is the legacy of Chatman’s work today?
- How can critical theory (e.g. critical race theory, gender theory, queer theory, critical disability studies) and concepts inform further understanding of mechanisms of information marginalization?
- How is Chatman’s work used (or not used) in research and education?
- What contemporaneous theory/research would have been strong additions to her work, had she been willing and able to focus on race and/or other facets of marginalized identities?
- How does Chatman’s work inform (or not inform) LIS practice?
- How does Chatman’s work inform (or not inform) organizational practice?
- What is the potential for the future of development of Chatman’s theoretical work?
- How has Chatman’s work influenced other disciplines? How can it be connected to similar to concepts in other disciplines.
- How might the cultural norms of LIS during the time Chatman was writing (1990-early 2000s) have influenced the development of Chatman’s theories, and the field’s understanding of social issues related to information?
- How might publication norms have limited (or supported) a robust and inclusive understanding of identity, marginalization, power, and information?
If interested in contributing to this themed issue, please submit an abstract (150-250 words) to the guest editors listed below by January 6, 2019. Deadline for Manuscript Submission: June 30, 2019Read more about Chatman Revisited: Re-examining and Resituating Social Theories of Identity, Access, and Marginalization in LIS