Academic literacies: ethnographic perspectives on

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary


Ethnographic research has investigated academic institutions as sites where meaning making can be contested, collaborative and lead to transformation in social relationships. Such perspectives contrast with dominant deficit discourses where academic literacy has been regarded as a discrete set of neutral skills to be imparted to students. Academic literacies in the UK grew out of empirical research influenced by the New Literacy Studies, in contrast to the emphasis on literary theory and textual analysis in the US. An ideological commitment to transforming unequal power relations distinguishes academic literacies from related fields such as English for Academic Purposes. Theory and methodology in academic literacies has responded to the changes influencing knowledge construction in educational institutions, particularly the spread of marketisation, globalisation and electronic communication. The challenge for future researchers will be to address the perceived methodological limitations of small-scale ethnographic studies in terms of policy influence, to diversify from Western university contexts and to find ways of conceptualising ‘academic’ to take account of knowledge construction outside formal institutions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopaedia of Anthropology
EditorsHilary Callan
ISBN (Electronic)9781118924396
ISBN (Print)9780470657225
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2018

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