Information-Channel Preferences and Information-Opportunity Structures

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Providing an empirical base to flesh out the notion of ‘information capital’, this article charts the elusive linkages between information-seeking practices, vocational preferences, and information-opportunity structures. Drawing on data from focus group interviews with over 300 advantaged and disadvantaged students, the research examines the information-seeking practices and circumstances of students attending high schools in an agricultural region of California. The article outlines a novel typology of four distinctive information-seeking situations: Internet-reliant information-seeking (IRIS), personal community-reliant information-seeking (PCRIS), educator-reliant information-seeking (ERIS), and multi-channel information-seeking (MCIS). Each of these situations brings together particular information-seeking strategies with specific vocational and educational preferences and particular information-opportunity structures. The four groups of information-seekers exhibit distinctive internalized stances towards what they define as appropriate information-seeking strategies and useful information-channels for educational and career planning. Illustrating these patterns, the article uncovers the connections between students’ educational and career aspirations, on the one hand, and their online and offline information-seeking strategies, on the other hand. By drawing these connections, the analysis provides rich empirical scaffolding for the concepts of information-channel preferences and information-opportunity structures as they relate to information capital, concepts which have remained empirically underdeveloped.