Death of the user: Reconceptualizing subjects, objects, and their relations / Day (2011)

Citation - Day, R. E. (2011). Death of the user: Reconceptualizing subjects, objects, and their relations. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62(1), 78-88.

Keyword - information behavior


  • 說明 LIS使用者與資訊行為研究中的「使用者」概念,在理論上是不充分的。
  • 根據「雙重媒介」模型,重新概念化 主體、客體、與主客兩者關係
  • 建議以 形式因(affordances) 取代 機制因(mechanistic causation)
  • 情感因(affective causation)
  • 此一理論的發展,運用了精神分析、歐陸與英美哲學。

The article explains why the concept of the user in Library and Information Science (LIS) user studies and information seeking behavior is theoretically inadequate and it proposes a reconceptualization of subjects, objects, and their relations according to a model of ‘double mediation.’ Formal causation (affordances) is suggested as a substitute for mechanistic causation. The notion of ‘affective causation’ is introduced.The works of several psychoanalysts and continental and Anglo-American philosophers are used as tools to develop the model.


  • Jacques Lacan對客體關係理論(object relations theory)的反對,評析 Belkin's ASK 的需求論。
  • 反對有客觀實際的「使用者」,因此宣告「使用者已死」(考慮作者對法國哲學的熟悉度,這可能是戲仿了羅蘭巴特吧),認為使用者的概念只是一種「符號秩序」下的媒介物。因此建議以「準客體(quasi-objects)」的概念取代傳統的客體對象。
此論題主要的重點是,在LIS領域中,主體與有意義的客體,就如同其個體間的影響一樣,都需要通過先前社會文化結構的解釋。由物理科學借來的機制因-效果模式,並不適合描述與人相關的,有意義的事件。另一方面,形式因-affordances方面的- 可以作為一種理論性工具,幫我們理解有序的行為與the radicality of bodies in their choice and implementation of affects.
The ‘take-away’ from this argument is that subjects and meaningful objects in LIS need to be explained in terms of their a priori sociocultural structurations, as well as their interbody affects. Mechanistic cause–effect models borrowed from the physical sciences are not applicable in describing meaningful events involving human beings. In contrast, formal causation—in the sense of affordances—offers us a theoretical tool for helping understand both orderly behavior and the radicality of bodies in their choice and implementation of affects.

The phrase ‘death of the user’ in the title of this paper refers to what could be seen to be the theoretical and institutional end of a certain understanding of human beings and their activities as either determinative causes of, or effects from, ‘generating’ or ‘using’ information. This article also suggests a certain corresponding ‘death of objects’ (and the importance of the concept of ‘quasi-objects’) when we are examining meaningful objects studied in the social sciences and humanities, which are inscribed, too, within nets of social norms and cultural forms. “Death of the user” refers to the end of ego psychology as the foundation for understanding human beings in LIS research and also to the end of ego psychology’s understanding of objects as subordinate to personal will and representation.

* bricolage 概念。


file link - Google Schloar, XXC