A matter of context:An investigation into the representation of bias in social tags and Library of Congress Subject Headings

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Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economics and Social Studies

Original languageEnglish
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Award date2015
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Abstract

This study explores the representation of bias in social tags and Library of
Congress Subject Headings, with a particular focus on the motivations of the
layperson (the tagger) and the expert (the cataloguer).

A mixed methodological approach was adopted. A framework for measuring bias
was defined and constructed and this was applied via a simple coding scheme to a total of 500 social tags from LibraryThing and 175 Library of Congress Subject
Headings from the Library of Congress online catalogue. These were harvested
from a sample of 50 popular feminist fiction titles.

The analysis demonstrated that, although there were a higher proportion of
unbiased social tags than unbiased LCSH, issues of bias were found in both
systems. The two systems displayed very distinct issues of bias, given the differing motivations of the tagger (personal) and the cataloguer (to allow subject access).

The research demonstrated the idea that the concepts of bias and interpretation
are inseparable; and (regardless of system and language), one cannot interpret
anything without applying personal, cultural and leaned biases based on a
particular worldview