Literacy(ies), culture(s), and development(s): The ethnographic challenge

Wagner, Daniel A.
Date of publication: 
Thu, 2004-04-01

Literacy studies, whether focused on children, youth, or adults, have been around for a long, long time. Comprehensive reviews of the field from both general and specific perspectives may be seen, for example, in the various volumes of the Handbook of Reading Research published since 1984. While cultural and even ethnographic perspectives have increasingly appeared in the Handbook, these large volumes remain embedded overwhelmingly in the cognitive tradition. The ongoing debate between advocates of cognitive and social approaches to learning in particular, and to education more generally, is still real and present in journals like Reading Research Quarterly and others. However, a major new layer of research with direct bearing on current ways of thinking about- and acting upon- literacy is now more than a decade in the making. This research combines what may be seen as social and political approaches to reading and literacy.