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Title: Literacy and a Jamaican Elder in 21st century England
Author: Bennett, Pam
ISNI:       0000 0004 5917 9690
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2015
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Literacy, a contested socio-political phenomenon, determined by the powerful, can be appropriated by the 'not so powerless' to reconstruct personal and perceived public positionings. Grounded in the social theory of literacy (Street, 1984), revisionist ideas about 'critical literacy' (Freire, 1996; Freire & Macedo, 1987) and the 'critical ethnographer', as liberator (Carspecken, 1996), I set out in 2010, with Mary, a then 70-year-old Jamaican elder in England, on this ethnographic-style journey. In the ensuing four years, I used the metaphor of 'script' to explore the research question: How does someone who views their formal education with ambivalence, engage with dominant socio-political scripts about literacy? Evidence from data analysis indicated that Mary required 'mediators of literacies' (Baynham, 1993: 294) to affect her critical re-positionings. In a complementary turn, it also highlighted the different ways in which she was a mediator of literacies in her networks of literacies. Networks of literacies exist in every sphere of life. In this investigation, therefore, two broad clusters of networks of literacies: the 'established' and 'transitory' networks of literacies are identified. Each type was visible in the three places: Mary's home, church and social club, where access to collect data was gained. While the focus of the research was intentionally on Mary, four other elders, Olga, Sylvester, Marlene and Rob, brought to the fore, the realities of doing research using an ethnographic approach. My engagement with, and in different ways, their stories of literacies and the jarring of the investigative process, served to heighten the ethical complexities involved in working with adults in later life. In concluding the study, these ethical, and other methodological issues and ideas generated from my work with Mary lead me to assert not only how organic, or 'living', literacies are (Castleton, 2001), but also how through their uses, they create affordances for elders to disrupt a range of dominant scripts within their respective life-worlds.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available