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This book provides a tool to help all of us -- from designers of technical systems to users of e-mail -- understand and knowledgeably influence the infrastructures that shape our lives. -- JoAnne Yates, Professor of Communication, Information, and Organization Studies, Sloan School of Management, MIT Sorting Things Out is a brilliant dissection of a fundamental facet of social life. Its analytic comparisons shed new light on familiar problems which plague all the social sciences. -- Howard S. Becker, University of California-Santa Barbara
Geoffrey C. Bowker is Regis and Dianne McKenna Professor and Executive Director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University.
Classification theory is tough reading, but this is an important book that expounds the basics in a new fashion. Bowker and Star, both professors in the department of communication at the University of California, San Diego, emphasize (and show how) classification becomes invisible as it gains acceptance and exerts ever greater influence over our daily lives. They explore three issues: the role of classification in large infrastructures; classification and biography; and classification and work practice. The authors analyze the International Classification of Diseases, the Nursing Interventions Classification, the South African race classification under apartheid, and other working systems to illustrate their points about the inevitable social, political, and economic impacts of classification on people, mainly because we take them for granted, assume they represent the "natural" way of the world, and therefore that we must conform to them. The closing chapter, "Why Classifications Matter," should be required reading for every librarian. It sums up what has gone before and sensitizes us to the power of classificationÄa power we wield as organizers of information. Highly recommended for library and information science educators, students, and practicing classifiers; this book is a must for all professional bookshelves, not just for those of library schools and research institutions.ÄSheila S. Intner, GSLIS, Simmons Coll., Boston Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
" Sorting Things Out is a brilliant dissection of a fundamental facet ofsocial life. Its analytic comparisons shed new light on familiar problemswhich plague all the social sciences." Howard S. Becker , University of California-Santa Barbara