The discourses of power, information and literacy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This book as a whole is concerned with the notion that information and, by extension, information literacy (IL) are political: more precisely, that information and IL are enmeshed in formal and informal decision-making systems that determine the distribution of capital, human rights, public benefits and so on. From the work of Bell (1976), through Castells (1996) and other analyses of the ‘information society’ (see Webster, 2014 for a review), these issues are considered most frequently at the global, macro level. Discussions of information literacy in respect to such macro-political and economic matters are rarer.

Befitting the common conception of IL as an attribute of individuals and communities, the focus of this chapter is on micro-politics: that is, the relations of power, authority and inequality that stem from everyday language and discourse. The aim is to explore how information and IL underpin political processes at this micro-level, and how dialogue, interaction and the making of judgements about information operate within information landscapes (Lloyd, 2010) that are shaped and stratified by power and authority of various kinds. This is accomplished by investigating the critical political theories of authors including Jürgen Habermas, Mikhail Bakhtin and Michel Foucault to gain insight into the ways in which IL can be applied in challenges to power and authority structures – but how it also may become part of these structures.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInformed societies
Subtitle of host publicationwhy information literacy matters for citizenship, participation and democracy
EditorsStéphane Goldstein
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherFacet Publishing
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781783303922
ISBN (Print)9781783304226, 9781783303915
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


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