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Dialogical elements among Harris, Dewey, Cutter, Otlet, Kaiser and Ranganathan: theoretical convergences in the history of knowledge organization

Although the term knowledge organisation was coined in the 20th century by Henry Bliss, the activity of organising knowledge in a systematic way goes back much further to classification systems of beings, knowledge and/or documents (Pombo,1998). These discussions show how knowledge organisation, as a discipline, relies on classification systems – here broadly understood as systems that provide an organisation of concepts and subjects - and how they contribute to the epistemological configuration of this field (Dahlberg,1993; Tennis,2008).

Our paper presents the theoretical intersections among influential authors of the 19th and 20th centuries who helped to develop the theoretical-conceptual framework of the knowledge organization history: Harris, Dewey, Cutter, Otlet, Kaiser, and Ranganathan.

Our methodology adopts a critical-descriptive approach through the description and analysis of the main contributions of the aforementioned authors´oeuvres, and the critical reflections of experts and biographers (Schneider,1934; Leidecker,1946; Mills,1960; La Montagne,1961; Shera & Egan,1969; Foskett,1969; Comaromi,1976; Hunter & Bakewell,1983; Wiegand,1996, 1998; Dousa,2010a,b; Sales,2014, among others). The analysis of the "dialogicity" among these authors is built upon the structural bases of the systems that they conceived, such as the main classes of Harris and Dewey´s systems, the main principles for developing subject headings in Cutter, and the analysis/synthesis processes in Otlet, Kaiser, and Ranganathan.

The results reveal that theoretical convergences of these authors provide a newer, and perhaps, a clearer picture of the historical and theoretical orders that contribute to the epistemological studies in knowledge organisation.

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