Recontextualisation as a framework for understanding relationships among literacy research, policy and practice



Publication Details

Chen, H. & Harris, P. J. (2008). Recontextualisation as a framework for understanding relationships among literacy research, policy and practice. In P. Jeffery (Eds.), AARE 2008 International Educational Research Conference (pp. 2-16). WWW Version: AARE.


This paper examines the nexus between literacy research, policy and practice from aBernsteinian perspective. There has been increasing concern about incongruent relationshipsamong literacy research, policy and practice as evidenced in recent debates about what countsas a legitimate model of literacy pedagogy. Whilst documents such as the Teaching ReadingReport have aimed at establishing priorities for literacy teaching and research, therecommendations address only limited aspects of literacy education and do not provide asufficiently comprehensive basis for policy development and classroom practice. Thereappears to be little alignment between most research being conducted by the researchers, thepolicies being proposed by commonwealth and state governments, and what happens inclassrooms.Bernstein¿s theory of the pedagogic device, and more specifically, his concept ofrecontextualisation, provides a means of conceptualising the complex relationships amongthe fields of research, policy and practice. This theoretical framework describes a system ofrules that regulate the production and reproduction of knowledge. For Bernstein, themovement of knowledge from one field to another, for example from literacy research, topolicy, to practice, occurs through a process of recontextualisation. This process brings aboutchanges in power relations and control over pedagogic discourse. Analysis of underlyingrecontextualising principles can thus reveal relationships both within and among the fields ofliteracy research, policy and practice. The usefulness of this framework is then illustrated byanalyses of recent debates regarding the use of evidence-based approaches to literacyteaching in Australia. This paper highlights issues concerning building a literacy curriculumthat can improve and sustain the literacy attainment of all Australian children.

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