Migrants and Literacy Crises

Lars Holm, Helle Pia Laursen



International comparisons of levels of literacy have in some countries been interpreted as an indication of a prevailing literacy crisis that demands political actions to avoid negative impact on national competitiveness, democracy, and coherence. Special attention is focused in the Danish crisis discourse on literacy as a reading competence and on migrants who, in particular, have become symbols of the crisis. In this article, the values and beliefs embedded in the political actions taken in the wake of the literacy crisis are analysed and the implications of the functionally based discursive construction of the literacy crisis for migrants are discussed. Based on an understanding of literacies as historically situated practices and value systems it is argued that the construction of the Danish literacy crisis can be seen as an ideological phenomenon aimed at changing pedagogical and educational values and practices. In addition, the specific construction of the literacy crisis leads to an increased pressure on migrants to adjust and adapt to a monolingual standard of literacy, and to certain valued literacy practices.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies