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This chapter addresses the role of action research in projects that link literacy education and cultural action in peripheral rural areas. These programs aim to improve the living conditions of a population without destroying its cultural heritage or way of life. Action research begins with three broad questions: In what terms do local people pose questions of development, change, preservation, and revitalization of their cultural heritage? By what means other than individuals' linguistic competence or school performance can literacy facts and issues be interpreted? Finally, what plans have local individuals, groups, and communities formulated to resist the destructuring of their community? Variables common to literacy education and the cultural context include the infrastructure of communication, the written culture, and social organization and cultural policies (including education). Literacy education should reflect diversity, complexity, and even conflicting cultural backgrounds and should demonstrate how differing cultures can connect, instead of enforcing linguistic unity as a means of access to "normality." Action research in literacy education centers on the quest for knowledge, action focused on social change, and education focused on the development of new relationships. The process of cultural action research is rooted in the community and is only possible with the participation of persons who have practical knowledge of the local culture. The outcome of this action research is a common cultural capital, a process of collective cultural development measured not by individuals' instrumental abilities but by improvement in local living conditions and cultural preservation. (LP)

Descriptors: Action Research, Adult Basic Education, Change Strategies, Community Action, Community Development, Cultural Context, Cultural Maintenance, Educational Objectives, Foreign Countries, Functional Literacy, Literacy Education, Modernization, Quality of Life, Rural Areas, Rural Education, Rural Environment, Rural Population, Social Change

Autor: Hautecoeur, Jean-Paul


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