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Conceptualising information literacy as social practice: a study of pregnant women’s information practices

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
Article number280
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>15/06/2013
<mark>Journal</mark>Information Research
Issue number2
Volume18
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Introduction In the current context of our information-rich societies, to be information literate is widely regarded as an essential skill of the 21st century. The present study presents a view of information literacy not primarily as skill but as different practices, situated within specific contexts. It suggests that questions of authority of knowledge are central to understanding people’s information practices.
Method Firstly, the concept of information practices is developed, drawing on theories from information and library research as well as ideas from the New Literacy Studies, the author’s field of research. In a second step, a qualitative study of 14 pregnant women’s information practices was conducted.
Analysis Interview transcripts (26 in total), pregnancy books and Websites were thematically analysed to draw out what characterises the women’s information practices.
Results The results of this study suggest that the women’s information practices were shaped by their constant assessments of knowledge for its trustworthiness. Social networks, including online, played a key role in the women’s evaluation of different sources of knowledge. The women examined ‘authoritative knowledge’ in relation to advice received from different sources and in the face of at times opposing knowledge claims.
Conclusions Understanding contemporary information practice in everyday life requires researchers to pay greater attention to how knowledge is constructed and assessed by those seeking and using information. More attention needs to be paid to the role of written information, found on the Internet, in people’s information practices.