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Title: Role of literacy in a changing society : an analysis of the changing South African literacy field, 1979-2000
Author: Lee, Margaret
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2001
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Social literacy research in the last two decades has described literacy in complex terms. Literacy is expressed as a social practice, as something that individual people do. Its meaning is accordingly both contextually and socially specific. This thesis in part considers whether such a localised understanding of literacy can be accommodated within national education policy discourses. It does so by attempting to isolate, from education and training discourses, the national role that literacy is said to play in a society. It then considers whether that role can reasonably be said to accommodate a nation's diverse literacy needs. Taking its cue from social literacy research, the thesis holds that the role that literacy is said to play in a nation is grounded within the unique socio-historical, economic and political conditions associated with that particular country. The thesis' consideration of literacy's national role is therefore restricted to post-apartheid South Africa. It argues that the role of literacy in South Africa has evolved over the past two decades in accordance with the social changes that took place in South Africa's transition towards majority rule. The view that literacy's role exists as a socially structured discourse is theoretically supported through a discussion of Pierre Bourdieu's key concepts of field, habitus and capital. These in turn underpin a methodology that uses themes of analysis - in particular 'equity' and 'growth' - to highlight the structuring tensions in terms of an exploration of key education and training reports since 1979, and current South African Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) policy. The thesis identifies several roles of adult literacy within South Africa's integrated education and training system. It concludes, however, that the current system's focus on 'outcomes' and 'skills' privileges a national 'human capital' role of literacy. It further suggests that this prioritisation risks marginalising literacy's role in redress and social transformation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available