Preamble

This paper is intended as no more than a sequence of 'fleshed out' notes on the topic enunciated in the title. In the course of this paper, I shall (1) sketch out a description of ethnology (cultural anthropology) as a discipline and ethnography as an activity, and explain how the concept of 'information' may be construed in that context; (2) describe what is meant by a 'cultural information system', and situate this within the broader framework of 'information-processing systems'; and (3) explore the ramifications of this for the study of information management in organisations.

Cultural anthropology and ethnography are broad fields. To facilitate focused access to further reading, I have tried to keep the number of bibliographic references to a minimum, and have therefore restricted my theoretical discussions to the work of the American anthropologist James Spradley and his associates. Be aware that his is not the only interpretation of ethnography, although he is one of its most important and rigorous theoreticians. The key books are listed at the end of this paper.