Reverting Hegemonic Ideology: Research Librarians and Information Professionals as “Critical Editors” of Wikipedia

Paul Thomas

Abstract

While many LIS publications have focused on Wikipedia, no LIS study has used intersectional class analysis to consider the site as a transmitter and reproducer of hegemonic ideology. Using both Antonio Gramsci and LIS theorist Michael Harris as starting points, this paper argues that Wikipedia is predicated on a philosophy of pluralism that serves as a transmitter of hegemonic ideology, thereby upholding the oppressive status quo. To counter this issue, the paper encourages librarians to embrace “critical editing”—an approach to Wikipedia editing built around an awareness of power, a penchant for critical literacy, a focus on desocialization, and an emphasis on self-education. The paper concludes with an example of critical editing praxis (dubbed the “Library Repository-to-Wikipedia” method) that research librarians and information professionals can replicate to counteract aspects of Wikipedia that inherently support the status quo and, thus, hegemonic ideology.

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