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Narrative as a key element of knowledge organization

The paper explores the relationship between the notion of narrative and Knowledge Organisation (KO). Starting with the dictionary definitions of narrative, it follows Ong's (2002) exposition of narrative as a "verbal art" that fixes knowledge by emulating the flow of time, and argues that knowledge and information are narrative structures developed to address specific social contexts. It then explores Hjørland’s (2003, 2008, 2016) framework of a broad and a narrow KO to approach the field of Science and Technology Studies as concerned with broad KO, and its approach of scientific knowledge and information as constructed narratives as one that can inform the understanding of narrow KO. The paper explains narrow KO as concerned with the establishment of narrative techniques, and Knowledge Organisation Systems (KOS) as indirect “stories” or “accounts” of knowledge organisation. It then assesses broad KO’s role through an example of the field’s own history: the Special Libraries and Documentation Movement, which drew the first major narrative of KO through a series shared themes and structures. Finally, it argues the relationship between broad and narrow KO as that of different instances of an overarching narrative of a knowledge field, defining KO as a narrator and translator of epistemological narratives.

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