Interchange, 34(2-3) pp. 341–357.
The paper argues that the term 'literacy' has become attached to too many disparate practices, and that renewed attention needs to be paid to how the acquisition and use of skills of written communication are conditioned by the core structures of the home, the classroom, and the state. It reviews the current usages ofliteracy and examines the agenda for further research in the central areas of reading and particularly writing. Attention is drawn to the contemporary engagement with literacy as a basic skill, and to the recent implementation in England of the National Literacy Strategy. The close parallels between the 19th and early 21st century literacy strategies are noted. If historians wish to apply their research to an interrogation of contemporary ideology and practice, greater attention should be paid to domestic instruction and to the role of government over time
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