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Abstract

This paper takes as a starting point one particular development in social theory – the concept of mediation – and applies it to the document. Central to this discussion is a conceptualisation of documents as objects, albeit one which fails if we assume the document to be nothing more than a receptacle of content. Drawing from contemporary social theories which give mediating objects a pivotal role in human affairs, many researchers find that viewing documents as mediators allows us to concentrate on function over content. Indeed, evidence indicates that viewing documents as mediating objects is well accepted and largely unproblematic. However, some of these social theories have taken mediation to a new conceptual level and now attribute agency to non-human entities. A small but interesting body of research suggests that agency can similarly be attributed to documentary objects.

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