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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
Title: Distinguishing between empowerment and emancipation in the context of adult literacies education: Understanding power and enacting equality
Author(s): Galloway, Sarah
Supervisor(s): Biesta, G J J
Keywords: Adult Literacies Education
New Literacies Studies
Pierre Bourdieu
Paulo Freire
Jacques Ranciere
Raymond Williams
Educational Theory
James Paul Gee
Issue Date: Aug-2012
Abstract: This thesis considers a theoretical tradition which is concerned with how adult literacies education might not always serve to socialise students into existing society, instead encouraging possibilities for desirable alternatives to it. Without this possibility, adult literacies education might only be understood as a socialising machine that slots students into society as it stands and where the role of research is to describe its operation. My research describes a long-standing refusal by educators, researchers and students to accept this possibility and my thesis continues this tradition. Through the analysis and interplay of the work of Pierre Bourdieu, James Paul Gee, Paulo Freire, Jacques Rancière, I distinguish between empowerment and emancipation in the context of literacies education. I set out the assumptions that Bourdieu and Gee make, how they understand power, identity, discourse and oppression, and what this means for the practice of an empowering adult literacies education. I also present assumptions made by Freire and Rancière, how they understand equality and oppression, and how an emancipatory literacies education might be understood and practiced. In particular, I describe how education for ‘empowerment’ encourages practices underpinned by the assumption that ideological processes prevent students from understanding how oppression is manifested. In contrast, I describe how an emancipatory education implies enacting educational relationships that are not reliant on this assumption, whilst exerting a social response to societal oppression. I make three claims. Firstly, that the idea of an emancipatory literacies education has come to be neglected or conflated with the idea that literacies education might empower, which has come to hold great sway. In so doing, I critique Freire’s work whilst reclaiming it as an emancipatory project. Secondly, that the educational practices associated with adult literacies for empowerment can be understood to encourage the socialisation of students into society as it stands. This emphasises the importance of distinguishing between empowerment and emancipation in the context of adult literacies education. Finally, that emancipation is a notion that must continue to be questioned and explored if educators, students and academics are to take responsibility for the practice of adult literacies education and its consequences. An emancipatory literacies education cannot be reliant upon the assumption that discourse is inherently ideological. Instead, it is predicated upon teachers and students assuming that emancipation is possible and acting on that assumption.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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