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Creativity in Everyday Practices

  • Date Submitted: 01/04/2015 04:05 AM
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Creativity in everyday literacy practices: the contribution of an ethnographic approach

In this article, we explore creativity in everyday literacies. We argue that much creativity can be found in the seemingly mundane and repetitive acts of text production and text use that are part of everyday life and work. Such creativity, however, can only be identified if we look beyond the texts themselves and examine the practices of making and engaging with texts. Once we leave aside conventional text-based notions of creativity, which focus on aesthetic features of language, we can understand creativity as a ‘popular’ and ‘ubiquitous’ event. To support our argument, we give examples from two different contexts: research on literacy in a parish community in the North-West of England and a study of literacy in relation to community-based tourism in Namibia.

1. Literacy and creativity

Literacy studies has long challenged previously dominant notions of literacy as a decontextualised skill (Street 1984, Barton 2006).   Studies of literacy practices in context have shown clearly that people produce, use and generally interact with texts in different ways in different social contexts.   These practices are patterned by social structures, institutions and power relationships.   They are purposeful and part of people’s broader social goals.   They are shaped by the cultural practices within which they are situated, locally and historically.   And such practices hold intrinsic meanings for the people involved, which vary according to the personal, social and cultural context (Barton and Hamilton 2000, Papen 2005).

To date, much of the focus of work in literacy studies has been on researching such practices in different contexts, describing the range of activities and meanings involved and relating the local literacy practices to the broader social context, challenging ‘autonomous’ notions of literacy (see for example Street 1993, 2001, Barton and Hamilton 2000)....


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