Revisiting Robert Pagès: Documents and Culture


An introduction to the life and work of Robert Pagès (1919–2007), French social psychology researcher and theorist of documentation. From 1946 to 1948 Pagès was a student in the program in documentation directed by Suzanne Briet that later became the Institut National des Techniques de Documentation (INTD). A 1947 thesis was published in 1948 as an article entitled “Transformations documentaires et milieu culturel” (Documentary transformations and cultural context). It received little attention until recently. The article, now reprinted and translated, examines the rise of new media and how they have largely displaced lived experience and bookish knowledge in a society that has become increasingly planned and coordinated. A notable feature of this article is his distinction between unique, particular objects, which he called “autodocuments,” and specimens that are representative of whatever group they are specimens of. A second thesis of classification was published in 1955 as Problèmes de classification culturelle et documentaire. Pagès founded and directed a laboratory for social psychology. He developed an indexing language (named CODOC) with interesting syntactic and notational characteristics for materials collected in the laboratory. Pagès writings and leftwing political activism are briefly noted

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Last time updated on 24/01/2024

This paper was published in The University of Akron.

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