Research and Practice in Adult Literacy – a friendly group

Literacies in Professional Services: Implications for Self-Advocacy, Society and Community Development

Literacies in Professional Services

Literacies in Professional Services: 24th BALID Informal Literacy Discussion

5pm on 30th November, London, UK

On Wednesday 30th November, we are holding our BALID AGM at 4pm, which will be followed at 5pm by a presentation and discussion on the above topic, led by Tara Furlong of RaPAL. This promises to be a significant discussion, leading us to reflect on the higher discourse-levels of literacy. The attached flyer gives a foretaste of the discussion to come, and we look forward to learning more.

The venue for both our AGM and the discussion is Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD, near Euston and King’s Cross stations. The AGM is a members-only meeting, but all are invited to the Informal Literacy Discussion. For details about how to become a member, please visit our website. Please also follow us on Facebook.

Just for information, our Weaving Literacy through Lifelong Learning conference this Friday (18th November) has attracted over 40 delegates from many different countries and disciplines. We will be reporting on that in due course on our website and on Facebook.


The complexity of communications practices associated with day-to-day personal advocacy, and also associated with social and community development, is increasing. What are the implications for literacies education?

This presentation follows the implications for practitioners of engaging in what may be ‘new literacies’, for instance, in writing a letter, developing promotional literature, or presenting theses. There is a developing market in the domain of professional services that such learners may find themselves involved with (World Bank, 2000), and this is also true of the aspirational client care of other industries – whether legal, financial, technological, HR, marketing, or property. As literacy researchers and teachers, we may find ourselves asking ‘what are the implications for literacies education?’

Drawing on systemic functional linguistic analysis (Halliday and Matthiessen, 2014) and discourse analysis (Fairclough, 2014; Bhatia, 2004), we signal some of the decisive factors in advocacy, client or project management and problem resolution including:

  • the framing of an individual or client in linguistic terms, such as in the ways they may be agentive, and the pertinent features of a situation;

  • a professional’s representation of that situation, such as critical items, risk factors or avenues for action; and

  • the relationship established between client and professional.

We look at communicative features within literacy practices which may contribute to self-advocacy, poor or exceptional client care, including un/certainty and (lack of) clarity regarding agency, action and risk as well as an inexplicit sense of manners/ rudeness. We focus on the concepts of ‘genre’ and ‘register’ as features of successful communication, including stages in the structure and accompanying content, features of the style and vocabulary used (in particular in respect of agency and risk) and interpersonal techniques.

The presentation concludes with looking at the implications of these issues for literacies and curriculum development.


Bhatia, V. K. (2004) World of Written Discourse London: Continuum

Fairclough, N. (2014) Language and Power 3rd ed London: Longman

Halliday, M. A. K. and Matthiessen, C. (2014) An Introduction to Functional Grammar 4th ed Abingdon: Routledge

World Bank, The (2003) Lifelong Learning in the Global Knowledge Economy: Challenges for Developing Countries Washington: The World Bank


  1. juliefur

    Some exciting things coming up. Well done, everybody!



  2. Thanks, Julie. Hope to see you there!

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