Information Access and the Social Study of Information

My research focuses on the intersection of knowledge, power, and people. I am especially concerned with three questions regarding information access:

1. How do people justify censorship?

2. Where does censorship take place and who is responsible?

3. How can information professionals respond to censorship?

More specifically, my research analyzes individual and institutional responses to information that they find objectionable or upsetting and informs both practical information ethics and the development of policy for information provision in libraries and other information institutions. I provide empirical analysis of how people use their social and symbolic power to justify censorship. This leads to a better understanding of why and how information is targeted.

While research on intellectual freedom and censorship often focuses on the ethics of information access, analysis of policy, and historical case studies, my work falls within the social study of information and uses both Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of practice as well as models of reading practices from print culture studies to ground analysis of censorship in theories of social power and the effects of knowledge on individuals. In turn, my research provides empirically-grounded foundations for developing robust policies and making informed ethical decisions in information institutions.

Image credit: florian_b