How can we characterise family literacy programmes in England, Ireland and Malta: a comparative case study.
PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.
Family literacy programmes have become an increasingly popular pedagogical tool utilised by policy makers to help address the literacy needs of families with low skill competencies and who are viewed as economically and socially underachieving. Taking a comparative case study approach, in this research I consider what benefits family literacy programmes have for the literacy skills of families.
Drawing on Bourdieu's habitus (1993) and field (1977) and Bourdieu, Coleman (1988) and Putnam's (2000) notions of social capital, in this research I compare family literacy programmes in selected case study areas within England, Ireland and Malta. The objectives are to establish differences and similarities in policy rationale, the characteristics of delivery and learner engagement. Predominantly qualitative in nature, the research consisted of 94 semi-structured interviews with actors involved in family literacy programmes across the three areas including coordinators, practitioners, learners, ex-learners, non-participating fathers and children's teachers. Interviews were supplemented and triangulated by a range of other data sources including a number of classroom observations.
Family literacy programmes across the three areas exhibited many similarities: the content of sessions; the underlying policy rationale for offering and funding programmes; the motivation of learners for attending; benefits reported by learners; and difficulties faced by practitioners. In addition, parents attending were mainly mothers. Some differences were also found, mainly between Ireland and the other two participating areas. For example, in Ireland different types of locations were used and children were not usually present. However, the main difference was not cultural, but political, between the desired policy outcomes, and the motivation of learners. The evidence suggests that, regardless of the cultural context, there is a mismatch or at least a lack of awareness between the two, with learners predominantly motivated to attend to help their children, whilst policy objectives primarily seek to address inadequate literacy levels, as part of wider social inclusion strategies.
Thesis (University of Nottingham only)
Bourdieu, habitus, field
Skills for Life (SfL)
Generational cycle of poverty
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||20 Mar 2008
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