Literacy in Different Social Class

The article titled, Literacy and Literacies by James Collins mainly highlights how studies on literacy have served to influences general studies on culture and knowledge. Collins asserts that most of the scholars on the topic argued from the awareness that within any society, there are inherent intellectual differences amongst individuals and which serve to categorize individuals into distinct categories. Based on theoretical frameworks such as the literary thesis, Collins presents the argument that literacy can be well linked to challenges in relation as well as social conflicts among persons from different genders, races, and social classes. I support the author’s argument particularly because from observation, I have come to note that individuals who are well learned will always want to associate with each other; sometimes going to the extent of establishing exclusive membership clubs. It is also widely known that more uneducated women fall victims to oppression by men as compared to their educated counterparts.

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In the article, Literacy in three metaphors, the author, Sylvia Scribner, aims at explaining why literacy cannot be described within fixed boundaries. This is because literacy, unlike other societal elements does not have a definite beginning or a particular point in time when it can be said to have stopped. Scribner notes that literacy is some form of adaptation which individuals go through depending on the environment in which they are raised. Further, into the discussion, the author appreciates that literacy can give an individual certain powers in society that cannot be conferred through other ways such as inheritance. Finally, Scribner also confirms that literacy can assign one a state of grace in the sense that the educated tend to get certain favors in society. I fully agree with Scribner, particularly on the last idea. This is because it is obvious from a society that educated individuals tend to get more respect and better-paying jobs.

Deborah, Brandt in the chapter, Literacy, opportunity and economic change, carried in the book Literacy in American lives, notes that in all countries, national wealth can directly be linked to the specific abilities of the institution’s manpower. Brandt argues that the ability to read and write can determine how a country will perform economically particularly because literacy gives individuals certain bargaining powers that cannot be acquired by mere experience. The author suggests that societies with more literate/educated people always have more marketable skills which essentially translates to general economic benefits for the societies in which they live in. The literate individuals tend to get easier but well-paying jobs while their illiterate individuals have to go for physically demanding work with their pay being at the mercy of the literate. I agree with Brandt’s argument and find it satisfactory particularly judging from how regions with high levels of literacy tend to outshine those with a few literate individuals.

In the chapter titled, How they’ve fared in education in the book, In Local Literacies: Reading and Writing in One Community, the authors, David Burton and Mary Hamilton analyze the literacy ability of Harry Graham. The interview with Graham and present it using the exact words of the interviewee. One thing that Graham says, and which I completely agree with, is that because of his illiteracy, he spends a lot of time trying to express himself, time which he believes could have been greatly reduced had he been well educated. In the chapter, Getting things done in the community, of the same publication, the authors study Shirley Gawker as an individual within a great community. They discover that she (Shirley) is a well-respected individual in Springside owing to her ability to relate well with people. Her basic education also makes her get noticed easily as compared to the former interviewee Harry Graham. I fully agree with the author’s conclusion that education gives one a competitive edge over their peers in any societal setup.

All the authors whose works have been discussed above point out that literacy categorically contributes to social class distinction. They all appreciate the fact that the more an individual is educated, the more he/she raises the social ladder and the more prominence he finds in his/her environment. Below is one question of discussion that might essentially contribute to the discussion by the authors while at the same time pointing out critical facts that may have been left out:

Q. Education has in recent days come to be regarded as one way of achieving financial success. Is it justifiable for the literate to exploit the physical strengths of the uneducated to amass personal wealth?


Brandt, D., & Deborah, B. (2001). Literacy in American lives. Cambridge University Press.

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Collins, J. (1995). Literacy and Literacies. Annual Review of Anthropology, 24(1), 75-93. Web.

Scribner, S. (1984). Literacy in three metaphors. American Journal of Education, 93(1), 6-21. Web.

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