Literacy: An Introduction to the Ecology of Written Language / Edition 2

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This introduction to the expanding field of literacy studies has been fully revised for the second edition. It explores recent developments and new research that has contributed to our understanding of literacy practices, reflecting on the interdisciplinary growth of the study of reading and writing over the past decade.

  • An introductory textbook on the growing field of literacy studies, fully updated for the new edition
  • Includes new sections detailing recent completed studies of literacy practices, and the use of new technologies
  • Distinguishes between the competing definitions of literacy in contemporary society, and examines the language and learning theories which underpin new views of literacy
  • Now features additional material on cross-cultural perspectives, US-based examples, and information detailing current educational policy.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"David Barton is a major player in the rapidly expanding field of literacy studies. In the first edition of Literacy, he brought to the attention of new audiences the research and approaches to literacy signalled by terms such as 'social practice', 'ethnographic', 'situated', and 'embedded' literacies. His own 'ecological' approach provides a coherent and insightful way of bringing together such understandings across many fields. This book will be an invaluable companion to all of those interested in literacy - policy makers, teachers, academics, and journalists - and it will continue to challenge many of the dominant stereotypes with which they otherwise have to work." Brian V. Street, King's College London

"I have profited in my own thinking about literacy from this book... It is a marvellous achievement." Michael Cole, University of Californina, San Diego (of the previous edition)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405111140
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/12/2007
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

David Barton is Professor of Language and Literacy and Director of the Literacy Research Centre at Lancaster University. His publications include Beyond Communities of Practice (co-edited with Karin Tusting, 2005), Letter Writing as a Social Practice (co-edited with Nigel Hall, 2000), and Local Literacies: Reading and Writing in One Community (with Mary Hamilton, 1998).
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Table of Contents


Preface to first edition.

Chapter 1. An Integrated Approach to Literacy.


Literacy in Everyday Life.

The Study of Literacy.

Outline of the Book.

Chapter 2. Talking About Literacy.

Metaphors for Literacy.

Theories and Metaphors.

Metaphors and thinking.

Definitions of Literacy.

Literacy Studies.

Looking for a metaphor.

The ecological metaphor.

Chapter 3. The Social Basis of Literacy.

Practices and Events.

Literacies and Domains.

Broader Social Relations.

Literacy as Communication.

Literacy as Thought.

Values and Awareness.

Individual History.

Social History.

Chapter 4. Researching Literacy Practices.

Researching Literacy as Social Practice.

Research Methods.

Local and Community Literacy Practices.

Multilingual Literacy Practices.

Literacy is Gendered.

Workplace Literacy Practices.

The Social Patterning of Literacy Practices.

Chapter 5. Literacy Embedded in Language.

Literacy and Language.

From registers to genres and discourses.

Texts and intertextuality.

Taking Meaning from Texts.

Language Mediates.

Chapter 6. Configurations of Language.

Written and Spoken Language are Different.

Continua from Written to Spoken.

Configurations of Language.

Decontextualized and Explicit?.

Chapter 7. Writing Systems and Other Notations.

Writing Systems.

Comparing writing systems.

Other Notations.

Chapter 8. Points in History.


The Archaeology of Literacy.

What is writing?.

Earlier forms of symbolic representation.

Early uses of writing.

Literacy and Historical Change.

Writing as evolution.

Evolution towards the alphabet?.

Contact and change.

A Social History of Literacy.

The development of printing.

The development of a literate culture.

Chapter 9. The Roots of Literacy.


Approaches to Learning.

Learning to Speak.

Chapter 10. Emergent Literacy.

Reading to Children.

Literacy Events.


Knowing about Literacy.

Chapter 11. Public Definitions of Literacy.

The Skill of Reading.

Writer as Scribe and as Author.

The Literary View of Literacy.

The Professional Writer.

Chapter 12. School Practices.


What Goes On in Schools.

Talk around texts.

From home to school.

Literacy as Language.

Chapter 13. Adults and World Literacy.


Functional Literacy.

Not Literate in a Literate World.

Industrialized Countries.

Language Issues in Adult Literacy.

Chapter 14. Some Implications of an Ecological View.

Literacy in Education.

Global Literacy.




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