The unbearable lightness of participating? Revisiting the discourses of 'participation' in archival literature

Publication Type:

Journal Article

Authors:

Huvila, Isto

Source:

Journal of Documentation, Volume 71, Number 2, p.358–386 (2015)

Abstract:

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate how archivists, records managers and scholarly literature in the field(s) analyse how participation is discussed in the context of archives and records management, and to explore practical and theoretical implications of the disclosed discursive practices.

Design/methodology/approach: The analysis is based on a discourse analysis of a body of archival literature and a sample of posts collected from the archival and records management blogosphere.

Findings: The analysis shows that instead of discussing one notion of participation, the archival science literature is referring to nine different and partly conflicting types of participation from three broad perspectives: management, empowerment and technology. The discourses have also conflicting ideas of the role of engagement and enthusiasm, and of that what do the different stakeholder communities see as real options.

Research limitations/implications: The analysed material consists of a limited sample of mainly English language texts that may not capture all the nuances of how participation is discussed in the archival literature.

Practical implications: A better understanding of how different claims of the benefits and threats endorsing participation in archives helps to develop effective and less contradictory forms of collaboration between different stakeholders.

Originality/value: In spite of the popularity of the notion of participation, there little, especially critical, research on how participation is conceptualised by archives professionals and researchers.

Information Services and Digital Literacy provides an alternative perspective for understanding information services and digital literacy, and argues that a central problem in the age of the social web and the culture of participation is that we do not know the premises of how we know, and how ways of interacting with information affect our actions and their outcomes.

Read more

Taking Health Information Behaviour into Account: implications of a neglected element for success- ful implementation of consumer health technologies on older adults (HIBA) is an Academy of Finland funded research project at Åbo Akademi University.

Read more

ARKDIS project maps the implications and opportunities of the digitalisation of information and information work in the domain of archaeology and to develop and evaluate conceptual and practical methods and procedures for enhancing archaeological information work in the digitalised environment.

Read more