"Information tactics of immigrants in urban environments." Information Research, 2011.

Type: 
Article
Author(s): 
Jessa Lingel

Introduction: This project seeks to contribute to research on everyday human information behaviour by addressing the information practices of immigrants (here called migrational individuals) engaged in learning about new urban environments.

Method: Two qualitative approaches are used: semi-structured, in-depth interviews and participatory mapping (a methodology involving analysis of maps produced by interviewees). The twelve participants interviewed in this project were migrational individuals recruited from an English language learning and acculturation centre in New York, NY. Analysis. Using Certeau's construct of tactics as a theoretical frame, interviews were transcribed and coded with NVIVO software. Analysis focused on practices used by migrational individuals in order to become familiar with New York, sources of surprise and instances of being lost in the city, and technologies and resources that were (or were not) useful in learning about daily life as a recent arrival to an urban environment.

Results: Main findings from analysis of interviews include: a detailed account of multiple information resources used in everyday life information seeking, the extent to which personal narrative and biography (such as work history) shapes interpretations of surroundings, and the deliberate use of wandering to become familiar with new environments. These findings are theorized in terms of everyday life information seeking. The term information tactics is suggested as particularly salient for understanding daily practices of navigating unfamiliar city space.

Conclusions: Through discussion of migrational individuals' information practices, possible developments for public libraries and acculturation programmes seeking to provide improved services for the immigrant community are suggested. With both practical and theoretical implications, this project provides in-depth perspectives on an understudied group within library and information science research.

Published in Volume 16, Number 4