Rhetorical Space and the Ontogeny of Women in the DDC


  • Melodie J. Fox University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; School of Information Studies




It is well-established that classification standards have historically reflected hierarchy, power and knowledge in the culture from which they originate (Olson, 2002). Budd(2003) describes classification as an agent of “symbolic power,” and points out that without seeing classification as a “discursive act,” class differences can be perpetuated (p.28). Placement of subjects in a classification scheme constitutes a rhetorical act that explicates an intentional or unintentional power strategy of the classification scheme’s editors as perpetuators of the dominant culture. As cultural norms shift, so does the classification, creating anontogeny, or what Tennis calls, “the life of the subject overtime” (2007, 2012). If ontogeny tracks the arc of a subject’s position, within each rendition of a classification the concepts proximate to each other to create a “rhetorica lspace” that defines how the concept should be perceived by users of the classification.