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UBC Theses and Dissertations

School literacy as a catalyst : a portrait from multilingual, low-educated homes in Turkey Koçbaş Demir, Bünser Dilara


This study examines the catalyzing effect of school literacies to initiate changes in the two multilingual and un- or under-schooled families at a period of time when the focal children started school in Turkey. My research draws particularly upon four interrelated theoretical perspectives. First, the sociocultural-historical theory emphasizes the social, cultural, and historical basis of social interaction and literacy activities (Rogoff, 2003; Vygotsky, 1978). The ecological theory promotes the idea that literacy and literacy activities are determined by overlapping social and cultural niches (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; 2000; 2005). Finally, I focus on the applications of critical approaches to literacy studies, such as critical pedagogy theory (Freire & Macedo, 1987) and the sociocritical literacy framework (Gutiérrez, 2005; 2008; Gutiérrez, Rymes & Larson, 1995) to argue for links between social power and literacy and literacy activities. As for the methodological approach, this study can be defined as a case study using ethnographic techniques (Dyson & Genishi, 2005). The data were collected through semi-structured interviews and participatory observations both in the homes and in the school. Data analysis includes discourse analysis to identify salient themes about how language is used to perform social identities and social activities (Gee, 2005; Marshall & Rossman, 2011). The findings point out that, first, the religious literacy skills in one focal family were recontextualized to make some connections with school, which was not a familiar domain for the family. Second, I provide evidence for the ways in which school-based abilities determined the categories of identity as forms of favorable and unfavorable self-definition for the focal participants, providing the focal children with a space to challenge the authority of their parents. This qualitative study is an attempt to understand how focal participants took positions, and negotiated their identities with one another based on their abilities to read and write. My study will shed light on the educational experiences of children, together with their families, who are marginalized as a result of having little or no formal education and speaking minority languages.

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