On (not) being literate enough: The literacy experiences and literacy programme needs of people experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of homelessness

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Journal of Social Issues
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AbstractThis paper is focussed on literacy and the literacy experiences of people who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness. Drawing on 23 in‐depth interviews with people who have lived experience of homelessness in Sydney, Australia, the paper examines literacy, literacy needs and interest in literacy programmes from a social practice perspective of literacy. Amartya Sen's (1999) capability approach is drawn on to examine the multidimensional barriers that impede access to literacy. Our findings show literacy needs and how literacy is understood and valued in the lives of people with lived experience of homelessness. We show the ways that spatial and temporal conditions enable and create (im)possibilities for the realisation of literacy as a capability. We also discuss how the capability is imagined to fit into existing worlds, as both an instrumental tool, as well as for personal satisfaction and broader participation in social life. Our interviewees also point to the possibilities of literacy learning and programmes supporting the realisation of other capabilities, emphasising the prospects of achieving multiple capability realisations through program design. We show how the findings bear out the principles of a social practices pedagogy in adult literacy programmes.
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