'Ciphers to this Great Accompt' - the Shakespearian Social Sense-Making of Theatre Professionals

Emerald Group Publishing Limited
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Social information Research, 2012, 1, pp. 17 - 42
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Purpose To develop a broader understanding of sense-making as an embodied process of social construction. Methodology/approach Extended conversational interviews (Seidman, 1991) were undertaken with 35 prominent theatre professionals in Canada, Finland and the UK exploring the events and relationships that shaped their relationship with Shakespeare and his work. Inductive analysis was carried out inspired by a variety of theoretical lenses, including Dervins Sense-Making and Foucauldian discourse analysis. Findings Participants sense-making was quintessentially social in that it was not only linked to their social connections and relationships with other members of the company but also a process of social construction drawing on a variety of disparate, and sometimes contradictory, established discourses. In contrast to prevailing approaches in information behaviour, the findings emphasise the importance of understanding sense-making in a more holistic way: as a process involving emotions as well as rationality, bodies as well as minds. Research implications Information researchers need to adopt a more holistic approach to understanding the relationship between people and information: to recognise that atomistic approaches focussing on the purposive information seeking of individuals reflect an implicit systems-centrism rather than peoples lived experience. Practical implications Information researchers and practitioners need to consider the social affective and embodied nature of sense-making and consider, for example, the ways in which online social networking sites build on centuries-old communal knowledge sharing practices. Originality/value of paper The study extends our understanding of the importance of affect and embodiment for peoples sense-making, while at the same time demonstrating that they, like language are the products of social construction, both the object and generator of discourse.
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