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LRDG - Translating education policy into practice: using Actor-Network Theory to explore practitioners' literacy practices

Date: 29 November 2011 Time: 1 - 2 pm

Venue: C89, County South

Amy Burgess (University of Exeter):

This talk reports on research I am currently engaged in which explores how a new policy initiative for literacy education in England, Functional Skills, is being implemented by adult literacy practitioners. I have carried out a pilot study involving interviews with eight practitioners with various roles who are implementing FS in a range of contexts. The part of the analysis reported here focuses on exploring practitioners' accounts of some of the literacy practices they engage in as they implement Functional Skills. Previous research in adult literacy, as in other areas of education, has shown that if policies are to be effectively translated into practice it is important that practitioners not only feel included, but share ownership of the reform initiatives. In other words, they need to feel able to act as agents of change. However, they often perceive their agency to be constrained, and this was the case with the participants in my study. I have drawn on Actor-Network Theory, in particular the concept of 'translation', to explore the nature of the practitioners' literacy practices, looking at the extent to which they were able to exercise agency in and through these practices, and the ways in which they did so. Close examination of their accounts shows that they could sometimes exercise agency in small yet significant ways.

Event website:


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Associated staff: Karin Tusting

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

Keywords: Actor-network theory, Education, Literacy practices


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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