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How We Construct Subjects: A Feminist Analysis

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Title: How We Construct Subjects: A Feminist Analysis
Author(s): Olson, Hope A.
Subject(s): Classification Subject headings Gender
Abstract: To organize information, librarians create structures. These structures grow from a logic that goes back at least as far as Aristotle. It is the basis of classification as we practice it, and thesauri and subject headings have developed from it. Feminist critiques of logic suggest that logic is gendered in nature. This article will explore how these critiques play out in contemporary standards for the organization of information. Our widely used classification schemes embody principles such as hierarchical force that conform to traditional/ Aristotelian logic. Our subject heading strings follow a linear path of subdivision. Our thesauri break down subjects into discrete concepts. In thesauri and subject heading lists we privilege hierarchical relationships, reflected in the syndetic structure of broader and narrower terms, over all other relationships. Are our classificatory and syndetic structures gendered? Are there other options? Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice (1982), Women’s Ways of Knowing (Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarule, 1986), and more recent related research suggest a different type of structure for women’s knowledge grounded in “connected knowing.” This article explores current and potential elements of connected knowing in subject access with a focus on the relationships, both paradigmatic and syntagmatic, between concepts.
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Citation Info: In Library Trends 56(2) Fall 2007: 509–541.
Genre: Article
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/4586
ISSN: 0024-2594
Publication Status: published or submitted for publication
Rights Information: Copyright 2007 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Date Available in IDEALS: 2008-03-26
 

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