The book provides a critical overview of * the literacy debate in academic and general educational discourse, * the role of functional literacy in societal development programmes during the past two decades, * a critical evaluation of the issues that surround literacy in an increasingly computer-dominated world. Part 1 provides an evaluation of the theoretical frameworks that have framed discussions about what literacy is, and what its value is to individual and societal development. Part 2 locates literacy within the context of the pluralist nation-state and discusses the important position that literacy has occupied historically in theories of societal development. Charting changing definitions of text within computer-mediated textual environments, Part 3 examines prevailing definitions and views of literacy in terms of their adequacy in meeting the complex kwledge and literacy skills demanded in the information age. The book's consideration of a reconceptualization of power within the information society, and its emphasis on 'communicative competence' in relation to democratic citizenship are unique. It makes an important contribution to the study of sociolinguistics, the sociology of techlogy, curriculum studies, the sociology of education and cultural studies. Its central focus on development in different societies will make it a useful text in Development Studies and Comparative Education.
Naz Rassool is a lecturer in education at the University of Reading. She has published within the broad field of the sociology of language, national language policies, linguistic diversity and the sociology of technology in education. She is currently co-authoring a critique of school effectiveness discourse, with Louise Morley from the University of Sussex.