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The cultural capital of reading in the early 21st Century: A creative and critical study

Sun, Emily (2018) The cultural capital of reading in the early 21st Century: A creative and critical study. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Embargoed until July 2020.

Abstract

Advances in technology, as well as shifts in the socio-cultural landscape, have democratised and created new forms of reading so that today the term reading itself is contested. This creative-based thesis, examining how an individual’s socio-economic and education background shapes their reading identity and informs their reading practices, consists of two components: a small anthology of creative writing and a dissertation based on qualitative research.

The stories in the anthology—including traditional and experimental short fiction and a dramatic script—represent the perspectives of an array of characters in diverse settings for whom reading, broadly defined, matters in different ways. In capturing the minutiae and nuance of everyday practices often taken for granted or difficult to capture in traditional scholarly writing, these creative pieces illustrate the tensions constituting the field of reading.

Each piece, and the themes inspiring and embedded in the creative work, are those that emerged from the thesis’s critical component. The dissertation is a qualitative study based on semi-structured interviews conducted with 14 Western Australian teenagers. Using French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital as a point of departure, the study examines and reflects on the ways older teenagers in the final years of secondary school value various forms of reading in situated contexts. The study finds that reading practices are shaped largely in response to a participant’s home and school culture and the value of each practice is context-dependent; yet participants determined the legitimacy of these practices according to institutionally sanctioned notions about reading. Using rich descriptions and imaginative insights to explore how individual dispositions influence and challenge various practices, the thesis makes a combined critical and creative contribution to the existing body of work on reading as a socio-cultural practice.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Supervisor(s): Surma, Anne and Cumming-Potvin, Wendy
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/41525
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