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Context-awareness is considered today a desirable facility of modern Web information systems, given the large variety of non-traditional client devices used to access such applications. In this scenario, a fundamental requirement is the ability to capture and manipulate, in a flexible way, diverse context information, such as, among many others, the device capabilities, the preferences of the user, the network QoS, and the location. In this paper we propose a general framework supporting the representation and management of a large variety of context information. To this end, we first introduce a general data model that embeds the basic constructs commonly used to represent context information. We then define a number of basic primitives for the manipulation of context data. We finally describe how this framework can be profitably used to support different well-known applications where context management can provide an important add-on.