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By Jenny Cook-Gumperz

Literacy - the facility to supply and interpret written textual content - has lengthy been considered because the foundation of all college fulfillment; a degree of good fortune that defines either an 'educated' individual, and an educable one. during this quantity, a group of major specialists bring up questions significant to the purchase of literacy. Why do little ones with comparable lecture room stories express diversified degrees of academic success? And why do those adjustments in literacy, and eventually employability, persist? via having a look severely on the western view of a 'literate' individual, the authors current a viewpoint on literary acquisition, viewing it as a socially built ability, wherein little ones needs to collect discourse options which are socially 'approved'. This extensively-revised moment version includes an up-to-date advent and bibliography. This quantity will proceed to have far-reaching implications for academic conception and perform.

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Extra info for The Social Construction of Literacy (Studies in Interactional Sociolinguistics)

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We know that there were changes in literacy expectations in the period that has often been called ‘the great transformation’, that is, during the move from a primarily agrarian to a primarily industrial and urban economy (Lockridge 1981; Salaman 1981). Moreover, the time-span needed to work through this transformation cannot be underestimated: it took the whole of the nineteenth century for the modern industrial state to be developed in Britain and America, but the literacy rates did not accompany this change in a simple unilinear progression.

Looking at such changes historically can have its dangers for when literacy is considered as a necessary catalyst for social change or development, implicit comparisons are often made based on a single social and historical standpoint (Goody 1977). Scholars taking a third-world or global perspective therefore are critical of many current writings on literacy (Akinnaso 1982; Scollon and Scollon 1982). Furthermore, cross-cultural comparisons of literacy development too often start from an exclusively Western standpoint (Finnegan 1981), and result in many contradictory views and hard-to-maintain dichotomies between forms of language, forms of historical development and the consequences of social change.

Initially, literacy had value in social and recreational areas of life: only gradually did it enter the economic lives of ordinary people in ways that could determine their prospects in life. Robert Altick (1957), in his pioneering study of the mass-reading public, has given many examples of how work and literacy were intermingled in earlier times. For example, a competent reader might be engaged to read to other workers while they worked, in the same way that music is piped into contemporary workplaces.

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