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Challenging representations:constructing the adult literacy learner over 30 years of policy and practice in the United Kingdom

Hamilton, Mary and Pitt, Kathy (2011) Challenging representations:constructing the adult literacy learner over 30 years of policy and practice in the United Kingdom. Reading Research Quarterly, 46 (4). pp. 350-373. ISSN 0034-0553

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    Abstract

    This article addresses the question, How do changes in policy discourses shape public representations of literacy learners and the goals of adult literacy education? It examines specifically how the agency of adult literacy learners is constructed. We carry out a critical discourse analysis of two key adult literacy policy documents from the U.K.: the manifesto A Right to Read (British Association of Settlements, ) and Skills for Life: The National Strategy for Improving Adult Literacy and Numeracy Skills (Department for Education and Skills, ). We describe the overall structure and genre of the documents and analyze the semiotic resources in the texts to explore the discursive shaping of adult literacy learners. Our analysis shows that, while a functional discourse of individual deficit is prominent throughout the texts, each document expresses it differently. A discourse of rights and participation in the earlier text changes to a discourse of social inclusion, conditional on duty and responsibility and narrowed to the sphere of paid employment. The profiles of individual learners are heavily framed by the dominant discourses of literacy and education that constitute the texts. We argue that the discursive shifts we trace in these national documents relate to wider changes in notions of social disadvantage, rights and citizenship, and the emergence of literacy as a key indicator of progress. Our analysis demonstrates the powerful ways in which policy documents articulate relationships between national and transnational literacies.

    Item Type: Article
    Journal or Publication Title: Reading Research Quarterly
    Subjects: L Education
    Departments: Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > Educational Research
    Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > Linguistics & English Language
    ID Code: 54011
    Deposited By: ep_importer_pure
    Deposited On: 04 May 2012 12:46
    Refereed?: Yes
    Published?: Published
    Last Modified: 13 Nov 2013 19:37
    Identification Number:
    URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/54011

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