n Mousaion - Power is information : South Africa's Promotion of Access to Information Act in context

Volume 23, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



Information professionals in some developing countries are likely to view differently from those in developed countries. Context becomes even more problematic when the searchers for information are ordinary citizens and the retrieval tool is a piece of national legislation that promotes access to information held by the state and the private sector. These and other difficulties become apparent in a case study of South Africa's Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 (PAIA). Using this legislation, context is examined from the perspective that power is access to information, which focuses on tensions in the struggle for access. This article argues that an enabling context or culture of access is just as important as progressive information legislation in developing countries. It identifies shortcomings of the Ingwersen and Jarvelin nested model of context. Ways of modifying the nested model of context and promoting a culture of access are recommended.

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