Classifying for Diversity

Rick Szostak


This paper argues that a new approach to classification best supports and celebrates social diversity. It maintains that we should want a classification that both facilitates within-group communication and cross-group communication. This is best accomplished through a truly universal classification that classifies works in terms of authorial perspective. Strategies for classifying perspective are discussed. The paper then addresses issues of classification structure. It follows a feminist approach to classification, and shows how a web-of-relations approach can be instantiated in a classification. Finally the paper turns to classificatory process. The key argument here is that much (perhaps all) of the concern regarding the possibility that classes can be subdivided into subclasses in multiple ways (each favored by different groups or individuals) simply vanishes within a web-of-relations approach. The reason is that most of these supposed ways of subdividing a class are in fact ways of subdividing different relationships among classes.

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