Chatman Revisited: Re-examining and Resituating Social Theories of Identity, Access, and Marginalization in LIS


Download a PDF version of the Call for Papers for this issue on Chatman Revisited

Elfreda Chatman’s work was among the first in information science to thoroughly and explicitly address information access and marginalization as social processes. In defining her theories of Information Poverty, Life in the Round, and Normative Behavior, Chatman introduced a number of important concepts to the discussion around information poverty and access, including social norms, small worlds, and defensive information behaviors. While Chatman’s work began to describe the form and implications of power and social influence for information seeking and access, it was limited by many of the same commitments to colorblindness and the assumption of neutrality as other contemporaneous works of the time. Often sidestepping examination of race, sexuality, and gender identity, it more commonly cited other factors, such stigma, income, and specific social norms and values as contributing to information access and poverty. This perspective made sense in light of the epistemic LIS culture that emphasized colorblindness and individuality and demonstrated a tenuous relationship with race, or “demographic” categories and concerns.

Continued theoretical development in critical race, gender, and disability studies have contributed to a recent resurgence in theory and research related to structures of marginalization in librarianship, information science, computing, and technology. We believe that it is time for collective re-examination and continued development of Chatman’s theories, and that this new work should wrestle openly with issues related to identity, marginalization, and access.

We invite authors from a broad range of professional and academic perspectives to contribute to this special issue of JCLIS. This issue will explore the question, “How do identity and social structures (such as power, privilege, and policy) combine to enact systems of information access and marginalization?” The issue will be a combination of empirical research, theoretical development, commentaries, and case studies. It will include a combination of qualitative and quantitative works, and will engage critical race, gender, and disability theory in its consideration of the topic.

Possible questions and topics include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • What is the legacy of Chatman’s work today?
  • How can critical theory (e.g. critical race theory, gender theory, queer theory, critical disability studies) and concepts inform further understanding of mechanisms of information marginalization?
  • How is Chatman’s work used (or not used) in research and education?
  • What contemporaneous theory/research would have been strong additions to her work, had she been willing and able to focus on race and/or other facets of marginalized identities?
  • How does Chatman’s work inform (or not inform) LIS practice?
  • How does Chatman’s work inform (or not inform) organizational practice?
  • What is the potential for the future of development of Chatman’s theoretical work?
  • How has Chatman’s work influenced other disciplines? How can it be connected to similar to concepts in other disciplines.
  • How might the cultural norms of LIS during the time Chatman was writing (1990-early 2000s) have influenced the development of Chatman’s theories, and the field’s understanding of social issues related to information?
  • How might publication norms have limited (or supported) a robust and inclusive understanding of identity, marginalization, power, and information?

If interested in contributing to this themed issue, please submit an abstract (150-250 words) to the guest editors listed below by January 6, 2019. Deadline for Manuscript Submission: June 30, 2019


JCLIS welcomes the following types of submissions:

  • Research Articles (no more than 7,000 words)
  • Perspective Essays (no more than 5,000 words)
  • Literature Reviews (no more than 7,000 words)
  • Interviews (no more than 5,000 words)
  • Book or Exhibition Reviews (no more than 1,200 words)

Research articles and literature reviews are subject to peer review by two referees. Perspective essays are subject to peer review by one referee. Interviews and book or exhibition reviews are subject to review by the issue editor(s).


Please direct questions and abstract submissions to the guest editors for the issue:

The mission of the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies is to serve as a peer-reviewed platform for critical discourse in and around library and information studies from across the disciplines. This includes but is not limited to research on the political economy of information, information institutions such as libraries, archives, and museums, reflections on professional contexts and practices, questioning current paradigms and academic trends, questioning the terms of information science, exploring methodological issues in the context of the field, and otherwise enriching and broadening the scope of library and information studies by applying diverse critical and trans-disciplinary perspectives. Recognizing library and information studies as a diverse, cross-disciplinary field reflective of the scholarly community’s diverse range of interests, theories, and methods, JCLIS aims to showcase innovative research that queries and critiques current paradigms in theory and practice through perspectives that originate from across the humanities and social sciences.

Each issue is themed around a particular topic or set of topics and features a guest editor (or guest editors) who will work with the managing editor to shape the issue’s theme and develop an associated call for papers. Issue editors will assist in the shepherding of manuscripts through the review and preparation processes, are encouraged to widely solicit potential contributions, and work with authors in scoping their respective works appropriately.

JCLIS is open access in publication, politics, and philosophy. In a world where paywalls are the norm for access to scholarly research, the Journal recognizes that removal of barriers to accessing information is key to the production and sharing of knowledge. Authors retain copyright of manuscripts published in JCLIS, generally with a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license. If an article is republished after initially publication in JCLIS, the republished article should indicate that it was first published by JCLIS.

The Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies welcomes submissions from senior and junior faculty, students, activists, and practitioners working in areas of research and practice at the intersection of critical theory and library and information studies.

Authors retain the copyright to material they publish in the JCLIS, but the Journal cannot re-publish material that has previously been published elsewhere. The journal also cannot accept manuscripts that have been simultaneously submitted to another outlet for possible publication.

JCLIS uses the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition as the official citation style for manuscripts published by the journal. All manuscripts should employ the Notes and Bibliography style (as footnotes with a bibliography), and should conform to the guidelines as described in the Manual.


Authors interested in contributing to this special issue should send an abstract (150-250 words) to the Guest Editors for the issue by January 6, 2019. Completed manuscripts should be submitted for review through JCLIS’ online submission system ( by June 30, 2019. This online submission process requires that manuscripts be submitted in separate stages in order to ensure the anonymity of the review process and to enable appropriate formatting.

  • Final abstracts accompanying the submission (500 words or less) should be submitted in plain text and should not include information identifying the author(s) or their institutional affiliations. With the exception of book reviews, an abstract must accompany all manuscript submissions before they are reviewed for publication.
  • The main text of the manuscript must be submitted as a stand-alone file (in Microsoft Word or RTF)) without a title page, abstract, page numbers, or other headers or footers. The title, abstract, and author information should be submitted through the submission platform.