LRDG - Researching practices of recontextualization: Issues of register and voice

Date: 1 May 2012 Time: 1 - 2 pm

Venue: C89, County South

Diane Potts (Lancaster University) on:

Whose knowledge counts? At a time when an individual's ability to reconfigure personal understanding for new contexts, new purposes and/or new communities confers significant social and economic benefits, the question is more urgentthan ever. Directly or indirectly, researchers drawing on systemic functional linguistics (SFL) have long engaged with this question, often but not only in relation to disciplinary, classroom and mass media texts. But identifying the privileged text is not the same as identifying "the principles of the principles" (Bernstein, 1990, p.34) - that is, the principles which accord privilege. And understanding how these larger principles impact the distribution and realization of knowledge is increasingly critical within globalized knowledge societies. How might those with an interest in appliable linguistics address both the privilege and privileging of pedagogic texts in ways that open up such processes for discussion?

I will draw on the resources of Bernstein's pedagogic device to analyse one instance of efforts to bring knowledge into new relations: the attempts by British Columbia teachers to participate in public accountability discourses on literacies education. Supported by their school district, fifteen teachers designed hypermodal accounts of their literacies practices. Using concepts of voice and register, I will show how teachers' professional knowledge was diminished rather than enhanced by these practices, despite community members', parents' and administrators' positive responses. In part, the challenges resulted from teachers' and stakeholders' use of more familiar registers, which employed categories such as subject areas and activities; referenced specific students and teachers; and generally replicated established interpersonal relations between teachers and stakeholders. The problems were further exacerbated by stakeholders' reception of the accounts as experiences rather than information, evidenced in their use of perceptual rather than cognitive processes when describing their interaction with the on-line accounts. I will close my talk with a discussion of the potential for research in fields of recontextualization, where competing discourses with their associated practices for legitimating knowledge contest for space and preference.

Event website:


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Associated staff: Diane Potts (Linguistics and English Language)

Organising departments and research centres: Educational Research, Lancaster Literacy Research Centre, Linguistics and English Language

Keywords: Education, Knowledge, Literacy learning