Critical Theory for Library and Information Science: Exploring the Social from across the Disciplines

Critical Theory for Library and Information Science: Exploring the Social from across the Disciplines

Critical Theory for Library and Information Science: Exploring the Social from across the Disciplines

Critical Theory for Library and Information Science: Exploring the Social from across the Disciplines

Synopsis

The practical application of library and information science is based upon 75 years of critical theory and thought. Therefore, it is essential for students and faculty in LIS to be familiar with the work of a wide range of critical theorists. The aim of "Critical Theory for Library and Information Science: Exploring the Social from Across the Disciplines" is to provide a comprehensive introduction to the critical theorists important to the LIS audience, and to give insights into how such theory can be incorporated into actual LIS research and practice.

This book consists of chapters on individual critical theorists ranging from Aglietta to Habermas to Spivak, written by an international group of library and information science scholars. Each chapter provides an overview of the theoretical stance and contributions of the theorist, as well as relevant critical commentary. This book will be particularly valuable as a reference text of core readings for those pursuing doctoral or masters level degrees in LIS.

Excerpt

Gloria Leckie University of Western Ontario

John Buschman Georgetown University

THE EVOLUTION OF CRITICAL THEORY

The rise of critical theory is usually identified with the Institute for Social Research (Institut für Sozialforschung), formed in 1923 and associated over the years with the University of Frankfurt am Main in Germany. The institute was the home of what became known as the Frankfurt School of social thought/critique. Particularly under the leadership of Max Horkheimer during the 1930s, the institute became a focus for the radical critique both of the fabric of society (including the economy and its attendant sociopolitical formations) and the social theories that were purported to be explanatory of social phenomena. Dahms (2007) remarks that

Critical theory began as the project of illuminating how “traditional” theories of modern society,
conceptions of social science, approaches to studying social life, and practices of doing research
start out from largely implicit yet highly problematic assumptions about the relationship between
social science and society, in the sense of social science and concrete socio-historical context.
Since the early 1930s, critical theory has stood as a reminder that the specific economic, political,
cultural and ideological configurations of socio-historical contexts have a direct bearing on the
form, content, practice and normative orientation of both social life and social sciences (18).

Early critical theorists of the Frankfurt School included Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Erich Fromm, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, Wilhelm Reich, and later, Jürgen Habermas. While this group of scholars had a wide-ranging intellectual agenda, they were united in their neo-Marxist thinking and analyses, which they brought to bear on issues such as the sociohistorical origins of capitalism and the nature of work / labor in a capitalist system, historical materialism, the characteristics and functioning of the modern state, processes of cultural hegemony/domination, exclusion and ideology, alternate views of existence, the nature of reality, and the psychosocial processes of everyday life. In addition, members of the Frankfurt School took aim at contemporary . . .

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