Sense-making theory

Savolainen (1992, p. 153): "The sense-making theory refers to a theoretical net, a set of assumptions and propositions, and a set of methods which have been developed to study the making of sense that people do in their everyday experiences". On the ASIS-conference October 1993 Brenda Dervin defended this theory using the label "The Communication Paradigm".

"The process by which individuals (or organizations) create an understanding so that they can act in a principled and informed manner.  Sensemaking tasks often involve searching for documents that are relevant for a purpose and then extracting and reformulating information so that it can be used. When a sensemaking task is difficult, sensemakers usually employ external representations to store the information for repeated manipulation and visualization. Sensemaking tasks inherently involve an embodiment as an actor (or actors), an environment, forms of knowing, and ways to work with what is known. Working can take different forms -- such as logical, metaphorical, physical, or image-based reasoning. " (Glossary of sensemaking terms, 2006).





Savolainen, R. (1992). The sense-making theory-an alternative to intermediary-centered approaches in library and information science? Pp 149-164 IN: Conceptions of Library and Information Science. Historical, empirical and theoretical perspectives. Ed. by Pertti Vakkari & Blaise Cronin. London: Taylor Graham.


Glossary of sensemaking terms (2006):




See also: Information science, theory





Birger Hjørland

Last edited: 25-06-2006