Subject positions of children in information behaviour research
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Introduction: This paper problematises how children are categorised as a specific user group within information behaviour research and discusses the implications of this categorisation. Methods: Two edited collections of papers on children’s information behaviour are analysed. Analysis: The analysis is influenced by previous discourse analytic studies of users within information science and by the sociology of childhood and the discourse analytic concept of subject positions guides the analysis. Results: In the children-focussed discourse of information behaviour research, children are described as being characterised by distinctive child-typical features, which means that similarities between children and other groups, as well as differences within the group, are downplayed. Children are also characterised by deficiencies: by not being adults, by not being mature and by not being competent information seekers. The discourse creates a position of power for adults, and for children a position as those in need of expert help. Children are also ascribed a subject position as users of technologies that affect the group in various ways. Conclusions: It is suggested that information behaviour research would benefit from shifting the focus from trying to explain how children innately are and therefore behave with information, to creating understandings of various information practices which involve people of a young age.
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