Document Type : Original Article


1 King's College London, England

2 Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran


Granted that literacy is a social practice involving different values, attitudes, feelings, and social relationships, this study attempts to examine literacy practices and the potential changes made through a history of forty years. The study was conducted in the village of Cheshmeh, near Mashhad, Iran, where the social definition of literacy emerged. The data have been collected through participants' observation and interviews. The results proposed that literacy progress has been uneven and unequal across countries and within a country or a population despite some achievements gained internationally. This study is a challenge to the idea that literacy is the same thing across all kinds of settings and under all kinds of conditions. In fact, widely varying personal, social, religious, and economic factors imposed their constraints on literacy practices. In the light of the results of the present study, the future literacy effort may achieve better results and increased opportunities of success for all individuals if it takes account of such local social factors.