Assessing the impact of women's literacies in Bangladesh: an ethnographic inquiry

Bryan Maddox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork in the north-west of Bangladesh. It explores conceptual and methodological issues involved in assessing the impact of adult literacy acquisition on social development. The paper compares ethnographic perspectives on literacy within the ‘New Literacy Studies’, and the conceptual framework provided by the ‘Livelihoods Approach’. In terms of women's literacy, the paper argues that instead of seeing the process as one of ‘skills’ acquisition, impact assessment should also examine processes of negotiation and resistance over new gender roles and identities. The risk and vulnerability associated with subaltern literacy practices, and women's literacy in particular, mean that such practices often remain hidden, and are conducted surreptitiously. Such a perspective has implications in terms of how we understand literacy, and the methods employed in impact assessment. These issues are examined in relation to both secular and religious (Koranic) literacies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-132
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Cite this