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Literacy and Orality at Work

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Frank Sligo

Adults' literacy is a topic of great interest to multiple audiences and scholarly fields but research into it is fragmented across disparate disciplines and hence lacks coherence. In particular, an impasse exists between cognitive science researchers and economists on the one hand, and critical theorists writing in the social practice tradition. This book acknowledges the importance of these fields, then builds on them and on other scholarly traditions by locating its discussion of literacy and orality within a media ecology framework. Based on in-depth interviews within successive literacy research projects in industry and community settings with trade apprentices, their supervisors and managers, industry training coordinators, literacy tutors, and adults of liminal (threshold) literacy, this book reveals the importance of oral-experiential ways of learning, knowing and communicating that exist in complex relationships with literate practices. The tradition of media ecology as exemplified in the writings of Walter Ong, Harold Innis, Marshall McLuhan, Michel de Certeau, Eric Havelock and a collection of contemporary scholars, provides new insights into literacy and orality. The book in exploring the everyday workplace and community environments of adults with liminal literacy demonstrates how a media ecology perspective allows adult literacy and orality to be reimagined within a deeper and more holistic way than possible within disconnected disciplinary areas.