Professor Mary HamiltonEmeritus Professor
September 2014- Emerita Professor, Dept Educational Research, Lancaster University
October 2013 Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Centre for Research in Learning and Change, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.
June 2011 Visiting Fellow, School of Education, University of Western Ontario, Canada
2006-2009 Head of Department, Educational Research
Summer 2003 Visiting Professor Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.
2000- Professor of Adult learning and Literacy Department of Educational Research, Lancaster University
1996-2002 Director of Faculty of Social Sciences Graduate School
1986- 1999 Senior Research Fellow Centre for the Study of Education and Training, Lancaster University
Summer 1986 Visiting Professor Department of Adult Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.
1981-85 Research Fellow, IRDPCE, University of Lancaster: Mature Student Participation in Education Project and Outcomes of Post-experience courses in Further and Adult Education
1980-81 Research Associate, Stanford University: Cognitive Effects of Literacy (National Institute of Education)
1979-80 Senior Research Assistant, California State University at Hayward A Sociolinguistic Study of Classroom behaviour
I am based in the Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning within the Department of Educational Research and am an Associate Director of the Lancaster Literacy Research Centre which is a partner in the National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy (NRDC). I am also a member of the Centre for Science and Technology Studies, The Centre for Gender and Womens' Studies and the Centre for Ageing Research at Lancaster.
My Interests are in language, old (print) and new (digital) literacies; informal adult Learning in everyday contexts; academic literacies in digital environments;globalisation and educational policy; and multimodal discourse. My most recent collaborations are around international tests of adult literacy and the growing field of the sociology of measurement.
I am known for the research I have done in developing a social practice approach to literacy studies and in 2012 a new edition of my book Local Literacies (co-authored with David Barton) was issued by Routledge as a Linguistics Classic). Other recent books include Literacy and the Politics of Representation, Routledge and More Powerful Literacies, National Institute for Adult Continuing Education co-edited with Lyn Tett and Jim Crowther from the Unviersity of Edinburgh.
In my research and theoretical work I draw on concepts from actor network theory, social semiotic theory, institutional ethnography and linguistic ethnography. I am interested in innovative research methodologies particularly qualitative and participatory models of research, on-line research, practitioner research, media analysis. I have a special interest in Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis and the use of visual images and multi-modal data sources in research.
I have taken part in UNESCO and European Community initiatives on literacy. I am a founder member of the national network, Research and Practice in Adult Literacy (RaPAL). Funded research projects have included literacy in the workplace (Leverhulme Trust); literacy practices in the local community (funded by the ESRC); Open Learning in Adult Basic Education (Universities Funding Council); Public Images of Literacy in the Press (Nuffield, Leverhulme) as well as a range of policy oriented and evaluation projects funded by UK government sources, local and national. I co-ordinated a DfES/ESF funded network of Practitioner-led Research Projects for the National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy.
I completed a book (with Yvonne Hillier at Brighton University) based on the ESRC funded project Changing Faces: A Critical History of Adult Literacy, Numeracy and ESOL in the UK 1970-2000. I am co-editor of a further book (with Lyn Tett at the University of Edinburgh and Yvonne Hillier ) based on the ESRC-funded seminar series on Adult Basic Education.
I am a member of the International Board of the International Journal of Literacy and Numeracy Sydney, Australia and Reading Research Quarterly, USA. Board member of Studies in the Education of Adults, NIACE, UK.
I was a commissioner for the National Literacy Inquiry co-ordinated by the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education and chaired by Lord Tim Boswell. The inquiry reviewed what has been achieved by recent government policy on literacy and examined the literacy demands for individuals, organisations, communities and families in a period of economic challenge. The final report of this inquiry was published on International Literacy Day, 8 September 2011.
I teach on the on-line collaborative Doctoral Programme in Technology Enhanced Learning. I convene the research methods module on this programme and an undergraduate module on Learning in a Digital Age. I supervise research students and undergraduate dissertations.
I place a high priority on collaborative research and development activities with teachers and practitioners in the learning skills sector, which include advice and support in carrying out action research projects, running in-service training workshops, giving talks, organising meetings and conferences (see for example my current involvement with the oral history project run by the Pecket Learning Group).
My work explores communication and interaction in the everyday textually-mediated social world and how people negotiate changes in the resources and technologies available to them. My research approach involves close analysis of how texts, both print and digital, are used within social encounters and how texts circulate within institutional settings. I am interested in informal learning across the lifespan; how older people negotiate changing literacies and technologies making choices among communicative resources (face to face print and digital); the effects of digital literacies on social isolation and connectivity; how communicative and learning resources are built across the life span and can aid adaptability and strong social networks. In recent years I have become increasingly involved with historical and interpretative policy analysis exploring how international influences reach into local practice and the implications of this for tutor and student agency in adult literacy education.
PhD Supervision Interests
I am no longer available to supervise new students.
Academics Writing: The Dynamics of Knowledge Creation
Tusting, K.P., McCulloch, S.A., Bhatt, I.U., Hamilton, M.E., Barton, D.P. 8/04/2019 London : Routledge. 166 p. ISBN: 9780815385905, 9780815385912. Electronic ISBN: 9780429197994.
Politics by other means?: STS and research in education
Gorur, R., Hamilton, M., Lundahl, C., Sjödin, E. 2019 In: Discourse. 40, 1, 15 p.
Contributing to the common good?: Media coverage of the international largescale assessment of adult skills (PIAAC) in four national contexts
Hamilton, M. 1/11/2018 In: Studies in the Education of Adults. 50, 2, p. 167-184. 18 p.
The Role of Networked Learning in Academics' Writing Practices
McCulloch, S.A., Tusting, K.P., Hamilton, M.E. 14/11/2017 In: Research in Learning Technology. 25, 13 p.
How International Large-scale Skills Assessments engage with national actors mobilizing networks through policy, media, and public knowledge
Hamilton, M.E. 09/2017 In: Critical Studies in Education. 58, 3, p. 280-294. 15 p.
Academics' experiences of networked professional learning
Tusting, K.P., McCulloch, S.A., Hamilton, M.E. 10/05/2016
A comparative analysis of national media responses to the OECD Survey of Adult Skills: policy making from the global to the local
Yasukawa, K., Hamilton, M.E., Evans, J. 23/03/2016 In: Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education. 15 p.
Imagining literacy: a sociomaterial approach
Hamilton, M.E. 03/2016 In: Beyond economic interests . Rotterdam : Sense Publishers p. 3-18. 15 p. ISBN: 9789463004428.
Literacy as numbers: researching the politics and practices of international literacy assessment
Hamilton, M., Maddox, B., Addey, C. 2015 Cambridge University Press. 230 p.
Negotiating spaces for literacy learning: multimodality and governmentality
Hamilton, M., Heydon, R., Hibbert, K., Stooke, R. 2015 Bloomsbury Academic. 260 p.
Hamilton, M.E. 2015 In: Landscapes of specific literacies in contemporary society . Routledge 14 p. ISBN: 9780415741248.
Crossing boundaries: digital and non-digital literacy practices in formal and informal contexts in further and higher education
Satchwell, C., Barton, D., Hamilton, M. 2013 In: Literacy in the digital university . London : Routledge ISBN: 978-0-415-53796-4.
The texts of everyday life: public and private identities in vernacular literacy practices
Hamilton, M., Barton, D. 2013 In: Literacy studies. Los Angeles : Sage p. 1-21. 21 p.
Spiralling through change: older people negotiating new communication technologies, a collaborative research project
Hamilton, M. 09/2012 In: International Journal of Education and Ageing. 2, 3, p. 181-206. 25 p.
Literacy and the Politics of Representation
Hamilton, M. 2012 Routledge. 176 p. ISBN: 0415686164 .
Local Literacies: Reading and Writing in One Community
Barton, D., Hamilton, M. 2012 2nd Linguistics Classics ed. London : Routledge. 336 p. ISBN: 0415691745, 978-0415691741 .
More Powerful Literacies
Tett, L., Hamilton, M., Crowther, J. 2012 Leicester : NIACE. 240 p. ISBN: 1862015848 .
The effects of the literacy policy environment on local sites of learning
Hamilton, M. 2012 In: Language and Education. 26, 2, p. 166-182. 17 p.
Visual Literacy as a Classroom Approach
Rowsell, J., McClean, C., Hamilton, M. 2012 In: Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. 55, 5, p. 444-447. 4 p.
Unruly practices : what a sociology of translations can offer to educational policy analysis.
Hamilton, M.E. 12/2011 In: Educational Philosophy and Theory. 43, Supplement 1, p. 55-75. 21 p.
Challenging representations: constructing the adult literacy learner over 30 years of policy and practice in the United Kingdom
Hamilton, M., Pitt, K. 10/2011 In: Reading Research Quarterly. 46, 4, p. 350-373. 24 p.
Back to the future?: functional literacy and the new skills agenda
Hamilton, M., Burgess, A. 2011 , 18 p.
Everyday Enchantments: Literacy and the Politics of Representation
Hamilton, M. 2011 In: Language and Literacy. 13, 2, p. 6-8. 3 p.
Spiralling Through Change: Older Adults Engaging with New Technologies
Hamilton, M. 2011 In: Adults Learning. 22, 6, p. 28-31. 4 p.
La littératie: une pratique sociale
Barton, D., Hamilton, M. 2010 In: Langage et Societe. 133, p. 45-62. 18 p.
Managing Transitions in Skills for Life
Hamilton, M. 2010 In: Transitions and learning through the lifecourse. London : Routledge p. 69-86. 18 p. ISBN: 9780415481731.
Putting words in their mouths : the alignment of identities with system goals through the use of individual learning plans.
Hamilton, M. 04/2009 In: British Educational Research Journal. 35, 2, p. 221-242. 22 p.
Creativity in Academic Writing : Escaping from the Straitjacket of Genre?
Hamilton, M.E., Pitt, K. 2009 In: Why Writing Matters: Issues of access and identity in writing research and pedagogy. Amsterdam : John Benjamins p. 61-80. 20 p. ISBN: 978 90 272 1870 0.
ESOL policy and change.
Hamilton, M., Hillier, Y. 2009 In: Language Issues. 20, 1, p. 4-18. 15 p.
Relinquishing the practices of a lifetime : observations on ageing, caring and literacies.
Hamilton, M. 2009 In: Literacy and Numeracy Studies. 17, 1, p. 63-74. 12 p.
Deliberative Policy Analysis: Adult Literacy Assessment and the Politics of Change.
Hamilton, M.E., Hillier, Y. 1/09/2007 In: Journal of Education Policy. 22, 5, p. 573-594. 22 p.
Critical perspectives on practitioner research
Hamilton, M., Appleby, Y., Belzer, A., Cuban, S., Kambouri, M. 06/2007
Reflections on agency and change in the policy process.
Hamilton, M. 06/2007 In: Journal of Vocational Education and Training. 59, 2, p. 249-260. 12 p.
Outside practices : the social practice theory of literacy.
Cuban, S., Hamilton, M., Barton, D., Papen, U., Reder, S. 04/2007
Advanced continuing professional development.
Hamilton, M., James, K., Cuban, S. 2007 In: Professional Development : Basic Skills Bulletin. 8, 12
Practitioner research : just a fling or a long-term relationship?
Hamilton, M., Davies, P., James, K. 2007 London : NRDC.
Practitioner research : just a fling or a long-term relationship?
Hamilton, M. 10/2006 In: Reflect. 6, p. 14-18. 5 p.
Adult Literacy, Language and Numeracy: Practice, Policy, Research.
Tett, L., Hamilton, M.E., Hillier, Y. 2006 Open University Press. 160 p. ISBN: 0335219373.
Just do it: Literacies, everyday learning and the irrelevance of pedagogy.
Hamilton, M. 2006 In: Studies in the Education of Adults. 38, 2, p. 125-140. 16 p.
The changing face of adult literacy, language and numeracy 1970-2000 : a critical history.
Hamilton, M.E., Hillier, Y. 2006 Stoke-on-Trent : Trentham Books. 208 p. ISBN: 1858563488.
Hamilton, M., Hillier, Y. 2005 In: Adults Learning. 7, 1, p. 1816-20. 1797 p.
Literacy as social practice : travelling between the everyday and other forms of learning.
Appleby, Y., Hamilton, M. 2005 In: Lifelong learning : concepts and contexts. London : Routledge 247 p. ISBN: 0415353726.
Literacy, reification and the dynamics of social interaction.
Barton, D., Hamilton, M. 2005 In: Beyond communities of practice : language power and social context. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press
New ways of engaging new learners : insights from the first round of the practitioner-led research initiative.
Hamilton, M., Wilson, A. 2005 London : NRDC.
New ways of engaging new learners: lessons from round one of the practitioner-led research initiative.
Wilson, A., Hamilton, M. 2005 London : National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy.
Understanding the everyday : adult lives, literacies and informal learning.
Hamilton, M. 2005 In: Understanding literacy development : a global view. Newark, N.J. : Erlbaum
Changing faces of adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL.
Hillier, Y., Hamilton, M. 2004 In: Literacy Today. London : National Literacy Trust
The English mass media: its contribution to adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL (ALNE) policy 1970-2000
Shahnaz, I., Hamilton, M. 2003 In: Fine Print. 26, 1, p. 34-37. 4 p.
The contribution of the mass media to adult literacy. numeracy and ESOL policy in England.
Shahnaz, I., Hamilton, M. 2003 In: RaPAL Journal. 50
Sustainable literacies and the ecology of lifelong learning.
Hamilton, M. 2002 In: Supporting lifelong learning. Buckingham and London : Routledge / Open University p. 176-187. 12 p.
Editorial : broadening the study of reading.
Hamilton, M., Barton, D.P. 10/2001 In: Journal of Research in Reading. 24, 3, p. 217-221. 5 p.
Privileged Literacies: Policy, Institutional Process and the Life of IALS
Hamilton, M.E. 1/07/2001 In: Language and Education. 15, 2, p. 178-196. 19 p.
Visual representations of literacy in the press : report to the Leverhulme Trust February 2001.
Hamilton, M., Shaw, I. 02/2001
Commentary on the NFER research report progress in adult literacy.
Hamilton, M. 2001 Leicester : National Institute for Adult Continuing Education.
Crowther, J., Hamilton, M., Tett, L. 2001 Leicester : National Institute for Adult Continuing Education.
Ethnology in the classroom: contructing a reflective curriculum for literacy
Hamilton, M. 10/2000 In: Pedagogy, Culture and Society. 7, 3, p. 429-444. 16 p.
The International Adult Literacy Survey: What Does It Really Measure?
Hamilton, M., Barton, D. 09/2000 In: International Review of Education. 46, 5, p. 377-389. 13 p.
Adult learning and literacy in the United Kingdom
Hamilton, M., Merrifield, J. 2000 In: Annual review of adult learning and literacy. Jossey-Bass p. 243-303. 61 p. ISBN: 0787947415.
Exploring literacy as social practice through media photographs.
Hamilton, M.E. 2000 In: Situated literacies : reading and writing in context. London : Routledge p. 16-34. 19 p. ISBN: 0415206707.
Policy and practice in workplace basic skills in the UK
Hamilton, M.E., Frank, F. 2000 In: British Journal of Education and Work.
Barton, D.P., Hamilton, M.E., Ivanic, R. 2000 London : Routledge. 222 p. ISBN: 0415206715.
Adult basic education in the UK : lessons for the US.
Hamilton, M., Merrifiield, J. 1999 In: National Review of Adult Learning and Literacy. 1, 1
The texts of everyday life : public and private identities in vernacular literacy practices.
Hamilton, M.E., Barton, D.P. 1999 In: Caldernos Linguistics and Society. 3, p. 45-71. 27 p.
Visible worlds: vernacular literacies and new technology
Hamilton, M. 1999
Whatever next? Policy and practice in workplace basic skills in the UK
Frank, F., Hamilton, M. 1999 In: Researching work and learning : a first international conference. Leeds : University of Leeds, School of Continuing Education p. 631-644. 14 p. ISBN: 0907644406.
Histories and horoscopes : the ethnographer as fortuneteller.
Hamilton, M. 1998 In: Anthropology and Education Quarterly. 29, 3, p. 1-10. 10 p.
Local literacies : a study of reading and writing in on community.
Barton, D., Hamilton, M. 1998 London : Routledge. 299 p. ISBN: 0415171490.
Keeping alive alternative visions : ABE in the UK.
Hamilton, M. 1997 In: ALPHA 97 : Basic education and institutional environments. Hamburg & Toronto : UNESCO Institute for Education & Culture Concepts p. 131-150. 20 p.
A history of adult basic education.
Hamilton, M. 1996 In: A history of modern adult education. Leicester : NIACE p. 142-165. 24 p.
Putting the new literacy studies into practice.
Hamilton, M., Barton, D. 1996 In: Lifelong Literacies Conference Proceedings. Manchester
The challenge of linking research and practice : ways of learning in adult basic education.
Hamilton, M., Moss, W. 1995 In: Innovations in continuing education provision, teaching and learning : research perspectives. Lancaster : University of Lancaster, Department of Continuing Education p. 113-120. 8 p.
Early days : the effects of incorporation on adult basic education in England and Wales.
Hamilton, M. 1994 Lancaster : Lancaster University Centre for the Study of Education & Training
Worlds of literacy.
Hamilton, M., Barton, D., Ivanic, R. 1994 Clevedon : Multilingual Matters. 274 p. ISBN: 1853591963.
Not just a number : the role of basic skills programmes in the changing workplace.
Frank, F., Hamilton, M. 06/1993 , 202 p.
Literacy and long-term unemployment : options for adult guidance, support and training.
Hamilton, M., Davies, P. 1993 In: British Journal of Education and Work. 6, 2, p. 5-19. 15 p.
Not just a number : the role of basic skills programmes in the changing workplace / Fiona Frank, Mary Hamilton.
Frank, F., Hamilton, M. 1993 Lancaster : Lancaster University Centre for the Study of Education & Training, 2002 p.
Literacy, numeracy and adults : evidence from the National Child Development Survey.
Hamilton, M., Stasinopoulos, M. 1987 London : Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Unit, 85 p.
ESRC funded international seminar series on 'The Potentials, Policies and Practices of International Assessments
01/10/2014 → 30/09/2016
Practitioner-Led Research Initiative Impact Study
01/09/2006 → 28/02/2007
Exploring Public Images Of Literacy
01/01/1999 → 31/12/2001
Adult Learning, Basic Skills and Literacy
01/11/1998 → 01/11/2001
International seminar: The Politics of Reception of International Assessments
Participation in workshop, seminar, course
Pecket Learning community (External organisation)
Member of Advisory Panel
Reading Research Quarterly (Journal)
- Centre for Gender and Women's Studies
- Centre for Science Studies
- Centre for Social Justice and Wellbeing in Education
- Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning
- Centre for Transcultural Writing and Research
- Lancaster Literacy Research Centre