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New Literacies, New Agencies?

A Brazilian Perspective on Mindsets, Digital Practices and Tools for Social Action In and Out of School


Edited By Eduardo S. Junqueira and Marcelo E.K. Buzato

From students as teachers’ pets to teachers as Second Life avatars, or from being ridiculed for not knowing your syntax to ridiculing others through multimodal remixing, something has changed in the way people are acting and being acted upon through literacies. From parallel text processing «under a cloud» to text-as-process enhanced by cloud computing, or from one laptop per child to several laptops left behind by children in creative spoken interaction, learners and educators’ actions through and around texts and technologies provide quite a telling example of such changes. From writing as technology to blogging as a tool for fostering critical mindsets within complexity, or from automatized knowledge acquisition routines to new forms of relating to knowledge and new perspectives on autonomy, social ordering and Self constitutional processes defy binaries such as agent/structure, global/local, social/technical, virtual/real, or even human/non-human. In this volume a team of scholars from some of the most prestigious Brazilian universities address these issues, and illustrate them with findings from research on the interplay between new literacies, digital technologies and social action in and out-of-school. The chapters introduce, or revisit, an array of theoretical constructs from education, sociology, linguistics and media studies, while presenting a new inside perspective about how research on new literacies is being carried out in Brazil. Altogether, they provide a very useful set of ideas, tools and analytical frameworks for researchers, teachers, and students of Education, Language and Arts and Communication worldwide, especially those concerned with technology-enhanced education and social inclusion.


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Chapter 1. New Literacies in the Context of Brazilian Historical Social-economic Inequality: Past, Present, and Future Trends Eduardo S. Junqueira & Marcelo El Khouri Buzato 1


Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen theorized the concept of inequality as related to life quality, i.e., not being restricted to income or access to goods, but also including one’s self-esteem and opportunities to participate in community life (Therborn, 2001). The Human Development Index includes criteria such as life expectation, access to formal education, and individual-based income. More recent debates, rising from Scandinavian theorists, have broadened the concept of inequalities to include various variables, such as nutrition, access to health services and to education, family relations, and culture (Therborn, 2001). Notions such as technology-based social inclusion (Warschauer, 2004), or digital inclusion, are supposed to address the various dimensions of inequal- ity in such a way that eliminating inequalities is not mistaken for overriding differences (Buzato, 2009). Despite the fact that Brazil is now deemed the sixth largest economy in the world, the country still has one of the worst levels of wealth distribution among all nations, a fact with historical roots that go back to Brazil’s exploita- tive, slavery-based Portuguese colonization. In spite of recent improvements, insufficient access to health services, quality education, and cultural goods is a recurrent challenge for the majority of the population in the new “Global · 1 · New Literacies in the Context of Brazilian Historical Social-economic Inequality Past, Present and Future Trends EDUARDO S. JUNQUEIRA & MARCELO EL KHOURI BUZATO Junqueira_t3 contrib 9/9/2013 8:49 AM Page 1 Brazil,” as we are now called. In short, inequality—be it social, economic, or cul- tural—has been, and continues...

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