Nordic citizens in knowledge society: literacy practices in transition

Workshop series 2009-2010




Literacy skills are considered essential to function in today’s knowledge society and citizens also have to understand what kind of literacy practices are valued and how to show competencies in order to gain recognition.


Currently all societies are changing in significant ways and the Nordic countries are no exception. These changes are related to globalization, technological developments, migration and the ensuing multiculturalism and multilingualism.


Theoretically, the series of workshops approaches literacy from a social viewpoint developed mostly in the New Literacy Studies. Literacy is thus interpreted as a social practice, something people do with various texts to participate in the meaning making in social communities and something that is rooted in the cultural and social practices of communities. Literacy practices include the construction of knowledge, values, attitudes, beliefs and feelings associated with the reading and writing of particular texts within particular contexts. We also draw on sociocultural theories of learning, which emphasize the interdependence of social and individual processes in the co-construction of knowledge. According to this view, learning is seen as participation rather than acquisition and therefore it is not confined within school walls; instead, learning takes place both in formal and informal contexts.Moreover, assessment and the use of multimodal technology are seen as an integral part of literacy pedagogies.





The series of workshops are bringing together Nordic researchers working on different aspects of literacy, multilingualism, and the changing living and learning environments and to initiate research examining literacy practices in the Nordic context.


The focal questions examined in the workshops are related to the processes of change in the literacy practices in Nordic countries, to the construction of identities and membership in and through literacy practices, to the role of technology in shaping literacies, and to the role of education in responding to societal changes.


The series of four workshops in 2009-2010 will be on the following themes:

·  Schools as learning spaces in a multilingual and multimodal world
·  Everyday literacies and active citizens
·  Technology and young people
·  Policies and practices of English as a lingua franca in Nordic countries


These exploratory workshops will bring together both theoretical and methodological approaches, thus consolidating the research basis for literacy research. Another aim is to promote a multi-dimensional, collaborative, and multi-method approach. In the workshops the participants will collaboratively analyze the potential of different methods; their strengths and constraints, and aim at developing new ways of to find answers to emerging research questions.


The series of workshops is funded by NOS-HS (Joint Committee for Nordic research councils for the Humanities and Social Sciences)


The coordinators for the series of workshops are:


Anne Pitkänen-Huhta, Professor
Department of Languages
University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Sari Pöyhönen, Senior Researcher
Centre for Applied Language Studies
University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Lars Holm, Associate professor
Department of Pedagogy,
The Danish University of Education, Denmark

Monica Axelsson, Associate professor
Department of Education in Languages and Language Development
University of Stockholm, Sweden

Anne Golden, Professor
Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian studies
University of Oslo, Norway