Conceptualising welfare workers as information bricoleurs: Theory building using literature analysis, organisational ethnography and grounded theory analysis

Rebecca French, Christina Williamson

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review


Introduction: There has been a paucity of research focussed on the information practices of welfare workers in Australia. The study attempts to fill the gap, emphasising methodological approaches and the theoretical development that enabled the conceptualisation of welfare workers as information bricoleurs.
Method: Within an interpretivist/constructivist, the study used ethnography and grounded theory analysis, combined with literature analysis. The ten months of fieldwork took place in a small community organisation in Victoria, Australia, and included interviews with eight participants and participant observation of fourteen workers and two clients.
Analysis: Grounded theory analysis provided the ability to build theory through ongoing interaction between insights from the data and literature. The analytic techniques, drawn from second generation constructivist grounded theory, included incident by incident coding; constant comparison; focussed coding (e.g., mind maps; memos); and theoretical coding (theoretical memos, concept maps, comparative tables and Venn diagrams of key concepts).
Results: The information practices of welfare workers were found to be fluid, consultative and collaborative. Workers did not follow a predictable sequence of tasks and steps, but rather relied on their box of tricks including personalised information resources, stories and support from colleagues, and their own knowledge to determine the best approach to meet the needs of clients.
Conclusions: Literature analysis, together with an ethnographic approach and grounded theory analysis allowed for significant insights. The methods also enabled the conceptual model of information bricolage (and the bricoleur) to be developed, a model which may have applicability to other health and community disciplines.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of ISIC
Subtitle of host publicationThe information behaviour conference, Zadar, Croatia, 20-23 September, 2016: Part 1.
Place of PublicationSweden
PublisherUniversity of Boras, Sweden
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventISIC: The Information Behaviour Conference - University of Zadar, Zadar, Croatia
Duration: 20 Sept 201623 Sept 2016 (Archived page)


ConferenceISIC: The Information Behaviour Conference
Abbreviated titleInformation seeking in context
OtherThe field of human information behaviour and practice is multi-disciplinary in scope: researchers from information science, information management, management science, psychology, social psychology, sociology, information systems, computer science, and other disciplines all contribute to this field of investigation. ISIC: the Information Behaviour Conference intends to reflect this interdisciplinary character through attracting papers from researchers in all of these areas. The unifying characteristic, which we see as essential in developing a programme is the relationship between the needs or requirements of the information user, the means for the satisfaction of those needs and the uses to which those means are put in practice by organizations or disciplines. Thus, papers that deal solely with technological aspects of system design, for example, will not be appropriate for the conference.
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