Literacy policy and English/literacy practice: Researching the interaction between different knowledge fields

Gemma Moss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


This article considers the role of research in disentangling an increasingly complex relationship between literacy policy and practice as it is emerging in different local and national contexts. What are the tools and methodologies that have been used to track this relationship over time? Where should they best focus attention now? In answering these questions this paper will consider three different kinds of research perspectives and starting points for enquiry:
1. Policy evaluation. The use of a range of quantitative research tools to feed policy decision-making by tracking the impact on pupil performance of different kinds of pedagogic or policy change (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 2010).
2. Co-construction and policy translation. This has for some time been a central preoccupation in policy sociology, which has used small-scale and context specific research to test the limits to the control over complex social fields that policy exercises from afar (Ball, 1994). Agentic re-framings of policy at the local level stand as evidence for the potential to challenge, mitigate or reorder such impositions.
3. Ethnographies of policy time and space.
Ethnographic research tools have long been used to document community
literacy practices, and in training their lens on the classroom have sought to
focus on the potential dissonance between community and schooled practices.
It is rarer to find such research tools deployed to explore the broader policy
landscape. In the light of debate within the field, part of the purpose of this
article is to examine how ethnographic research tools might be refined to
study how policy from afar reshapes literacy practices in the here and now.
(Brandt and Clinton, 2002).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-120
Number of pages17
JournalEnglish Teaching: Practice and Critique
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2012

Bibliographical note

M1 - Article


  • Ethnographic research tools, literacy policy, literacy practices,
  • Research methods


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