Reading cultures - Towards a clearer, more inclusive description

Type Journal Article - Reading & Writing - Journal of the Literacy Association of South Africa
Title Reading cultures - Towards a clearer, more inclusive description
Volume 15
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2024
Page numbers 1-7
Background: This article describes how the National Reading Barometer project has redefined the concept of ‘reading culture’ in South Africa. Objectives: As expressed in the 2023 National Reading Survey (N = 4250) and the 2023 National Reading Barometer, a clearer description of reading cultures was developed to describe both individual reading practices (measured through the survey) and the national reading ecosystem (measured through the barometer). Method: We describe the survey and statistical tools developed to measure the new concept of reading cultures. This includes a survey questionnaire that introduced novel questions alongside established indicators. Reading is defined and measured through six distinct dimensions: reading purpose, habits, volume, depth, motivation, and identity. The expanded understanding of reading purpose includes reading for information, communication, and enjoyment. At an ecosystem level, the National Reading Barometer was applied to visualise data from the National Reading Survey and secondary data on reading ability, access to reading material, and enabling environmental indicators to provide a baseline for high-level longitudinal trends in the national reading environment. Results: The National Reading Barometer and National Reading Survey assisted to redefine the debate on reading cultures by providing evidence-based descriptions of varied reading cultures and situating these within the reading ecosystem. Conclusion: We conclude by proposing how this revised concept of reading cultures and the new tools for measuring impact may open research and policy advocacy opportunities in the literacy sector. Contribution: This article contributes a pluralistic, Afrocentric, and modernised understanding of reading cultures.

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