Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Sharon Deckert, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Claude M. Hurlbert, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Resa C. Bizzaro, Ph.D.


This qualitative study was designed to explore UNESCO's discursive formations of literacy from 1949 to 2002. Documents included general conferences resolutions, policy papers commissioned by these organizations, brochures, booklets, position papers, global monitoring reports, education sector strategy papers.To analyze the data, I drew I drew from three methods of qualitative analysis based on grounded theory, metaphor analysis and CDA and various analytical tools such as Foucault (1972, 1980)'s notion of discursive formations, the concept of intertextuality, recontextualization and multivocality. The conclusions drawn from this study follow the research questions and the findings therefore address five areas: (a) UNESCO's renewed definitions of literacy; (b) the discursive formations of literacy; (c) the excluded discourses in UNESCO's conceptualizations of literacy; (d) the relationships between the ethnographic insights and an economistic approach to literacy; (e) the metanarrative that surrounds UNESCO's conceptualizations of literacy. The overriding finding in this study revealed that the importance of the Anglophone discourse of literacy in the international arena and in academia and the relevance of UNESCO's conceptualizations of literacy, ones aiming to incorporate ethnographic insights into a an economistic discourse that posit literacy as a social practice contributing to broader purposes of lifelong education and responding to the demands of the global economy.