Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Vol.6. No.4 December  2015                                           Pp.68-76

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 Critical Literacy: Disseminating Power Relations 

Rachida Labbas
Washington State University, WA, USA


Research on literacy as the ability to read and write has mainly focused on how to decode, encode and comprehend printed alphabetic texts (Lankshear & Knobel, 2011). This conceptual paper aims at exploring the development of sociocultural theory. It also aims at exploring the way critical literacy has led to the emergence of multiliteracies. Research on literacy was also grounded on psychological theory (Tracey & Morrow, 2006). With the challenges and the changes that are happening in the 21st century, the focus on learning in groups is what drives research on literacy. The main shift that has occurred in literacy is to approach learning from a sociocultural theory. Many theories have emerged under the umbrella of sociocultural theory. Among the many factors that have led to the sociocultural theory is the focus on power relations that are embedded in literacy. Disseminating power relations in literacy has also led the emergence of multiliteracies as a critique to the dominance of the print word over other forms of literacies (Kress, 2000). Within the frame of sociocultural theory and critical literacy, literacy as multiple is more and more acknowledged.
KeyWords: critical literacy, multiliteracies, power, sociocultural theory


The author is a Fulbright scholar and a PhD candidate in education at Washington State
University (WSU), WA. Her program is Language, Literacy, and Technology. She taught
English in high school and university in Algeria. She is currently an ESL teacher at WSU, WA,
USA. Her research interests are: technology use in language teaching, multiliteracies, ESL
writing, and Teachers‟ epistemic beliefs.