Date of Award

Spring 1988

Project Type


Program or Major

Reading/Writing Instruction

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Thomas Newkirk


This research is an ethnographic study of the meaning of literacy in the lives of three adults. The two-year study, which took place in the community of Hubbards, Nova Scotia, investigated the literacy background and current literacy activities of two women and one man. The data were collected using interactive methods, such as participant observation and interviews, and non-interactive methods, such as collecting reading and writing artifacts. The results of the study described the holistic process of learning and demonstrating literate behaviours at home and at work, and illustrated the role that literacy plays in shaping the contexts of the participants' lives. The findings suggest that literacy cannot be separated from the context in which it appears, nor can it be separated from the personality, history, goals, life issues, and problems of the people involved. The literate behaviours of the participants indicate that each of them uses signs in the contexts of their lives to reflect and create who they are.