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Friday, June 9 • 11:55am - 12:15pm
Epistemic Justice: Through and beyond information inequality

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My paper will examine the concept of “information inequality” (alongside related terminologies such as “information poverty” and “the digital divide”) as a multifaceted construction, produced by both academic and popular discourses, and given to a wide range of interpretations and subsequent policy implications. Historically, the concept of information inequality has roots in research on social inequalities within the fields of education, literacy, and universal access, dating back to the 1960s. In this paper, however, I will be chiefly concerned with formulations of information inequality as they have been shaped since the dawn of the internet age in the early 1990s, at which point information inequality becomes widely interrogated as a) the lack of technological literacy among “information poor” groups; and b) the unequal distributions of material access to various communication technologies: personal computers, broadband internet, and the like.

The information inequality framework is premised on a few consequential assumptions, namely that information and its value is to be globally understood in a uniform way, and that the complex group of issues that contribute to an unjust information landscape can be addressed through the simple economic solution of a more equal distribution of resources. This framework also has the negative social potential, as argued by David J. Hudson, of perpetuating and deepening biases about the intellectual tendencies and capacities of ethnic groups who are not historically well-resourced.

In contrast, I will explore Miranda Fricker’s concept of “epistemic justice” as a theoretical approach that de-emphasizes the role of technology and/or standards of knowledge in addressing issues of information justice, instead stressing the need for attentive contextualizations of problems of information access and exchange within the parameters of specific information needs and socio historical dynamics. Epistemic justice encourages collaborative—as opposed to prescriptive—processes that foreground a critical consciousness concerning the varied hierarchies of information value that exist simultaneously in a global world. My paper will conclude with an examination of the field of “open scholarship”, an arena in which important work has occurred both in theory and in practice. I give particular focus to the conceptual development of “situated openness” as an applied framework for developing more just relationships between communities of differing social positions.

avatar for Morgan Võ

Morgan Võ

student, Pratt Institute, School of Information
Morgan Võ (b. 1989) is a poet concerned with resonance, contingency, difficulty understanding, and the presence of the dead among the living; he is also an MSLIS candidate at the Pratt Institute School of Information. He organized G-L-O-S-S, a mutual aid-based poetry press, fro... Read More →

Friday June 9, 2023 11:55am - 12:15pm EDT
PS 405 (Design Center)