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Information creation and the ideological code of “keeping track”
Information Research
  • Pamela J. McKenzie, University of Western Ontario
  • Elisabeth Davies
  • Sherilyn Williams
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Introduction. This paper considers the practices of information creation in personal information management by studying the work of keeping track in everyday life, e.g., creating lists and calendars.
Method. We interviewed ten participants from two Canadian provinces about how they keep track and we observed and photographed the physical spaces and the documents they created and used. Our data set consists of fourteen hours of interviews, 330 photographs and 500 pages of interview transcripts.
Analysis. We used the qualitative technique of constant comparison within an abductive framework of relational and discourse analysis to study a) how the domestic work of keeping track hooks into the requirements of organizations such as schools and workplaces, and b) how talk about keeping track relates to participants' presentations of themselves as good workers, parents, citizens, etc.
Results. The work of keeping track functions in terms of Dorothy Smith's concept of the ideological code. A managerial imperative pervades this work, even in domestic contexts, and participants made use of workplace genres and conventions.
Conclusions. Even in households, the work of keeping track is embedded within organizational contexts. Managerialism is produced and reproduced as an ideological code that shapes participants' information creation and their talk about it.


The first author would like to acknowledge the support of an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. This paper is based on a presentation at the Information: Interactions and Impact (i3) Conference. This biennial international conference is organised by the Department of Information Management and Research Institute for Management, Governance and Society (IMaGeS) at Robert Gordon University. i32013 was held at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK on 25-28 June 2013. Further details are available at

Citation Information
McKenzie, P.J., Davies, E. & Williams, S. (2014). Information creation and the ideological code of managerialism in the work of keeping track. Information Research, 19(2) paper 614. [Available at]