Interrogating the discourse of 'social literacies' in an era of uncertainty

Year: 2002

Author: Allard, Andrea, Johnson, Evelyn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Originally, the term 'social literacies' was used to suggest the skills, knowledge and processes for addressing multicultural teaching and learning (Kalantzis and Cope, 1983). The meaning of the phrase has since evolved to encompass widely different concepts, including for example, social 'competencies', and/or citizenship education (eg., Arthur & Davison, 2000). Clearly the discourse around 'social literacies' is shifting in response to changing educational policies, both nationally and internationally.

In this paper, we examine how constructs of 'social literacies' have been and might be deployed. Building from a review of the policy, program and theoretical literature, we pose questions concerning how 'social literacies' might be used to interrogate and rework relations, especially those of gender and culture. Questions to be considered include: will the concept of 'social literacies' enable us to better understand the processes of identity and community formations in this era of uncertainty? Which knowledges and skills are identified in the literature and positioned as critical in establishing 'productive' social relations/literacies? Additionally, we begin to theorise the degree to which such constructions of 'social literacies' might enhance and/or limit quality learning at the tertiary levels of teacher education.