The links between literacy and development have been the focus of research conducted by both economists and anthropologists. Yet researchers from these different disciplines have tended to work in isolation from each other. This book aims to create a space for new interdisciplinary debate in this area, through bringing together contributions on literacy and development from the fields of education, literacy studies, anthropology and economics. The book extends our theoretical understanding on the ways in which people’s acquisition and uses of literacy influence changes in agency, identity, social practice and labour market and other outcomes. The chapters discuss data from diverse cultural contexts (South Africa, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Peru, and Mexico), and from contrasting research paradigms. The contributors examine the significance of culture and socio-economic contexts in shaping such processes. As such, they contribute to our understanding of the role of literacy in processes of poverty reduction, and its importance to people’s capabilities and wellbeing. The themes covered include: the dynamics of literacy use in the production of agency, the enactment, negotiation and embodiment of new social identities - including gendered and religious identities; the impacts of literate identities and use on institutional relations and social participation; the dynamics of literacy ‘sharing’ and their externalities within and beyond households; formal analysis of the impacts of proximate illiteracy on labour market and health outcomes across men and women and social contexts.
This book was published as a special issue of the Journal of Development Studies.
1. Introduction: Interdisciplinary approaches to literacy and development: an introduction and review of the field Kaushik Basu, Bryan Maddox and Anna Robinson-Pant 2. ‘Why Literacy Matters’: Exploring A Policy Perspective on Literacies, Identities and Social Change Anna Robinson-Pant 3. Literacy Sharing, Assortative Mating, or What? Labour Market Advantages and Proximate Illiteracy Revisited Vegard Iversen & Richard Palmer-Jones 4. Externality and Literacy: A Note S. Subramanian 5. Literacies of Distinction: (Dis)Empowerment in Social Movements Dorothy Holland & Debra Skinner 6. Literacies and Discourses of Development Among the Rabaris of Kutch, India Caroline Dyer 7. Mail that Feeds the Family: Popular Correspondence and Official Literacy Campaigns Virginia Zavala 8. ‘Making Things Happen’: Literacy and Agency in Housing Struggles in South Africa Catherine Kell 9. The Roots and the Growth of Women’s Writing in a Peruvian Village Mercedes Nino-Murcia 10. Literacy partnerships: Access to reading and writing through mediation Judy Kalman 11. Models and Mechanisms: Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives on Literacy and Development Bryan Maddox 12. Afterword Brian V. Street