This paper attempts to locate the document retrieval interaction in a broader social context. Two distinct functions of document retrieval systems, namely, transmission (reproduction) of information and production of new knowledge are identified. It is argued that document retrieval systems are part of larger social structures and their functionality is regulated by higher level power relations that operate in society. The importance of the relationship between the micro (technological) and macro (socio-political) levels of the document retrieval interaction is noted.