Congruence, resistance, liminality: Reading and ideology in three school libraries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article offers an ethnographic description of the processes of enculturation that occurred within three school libraries, and considers how such libraries may be considered cultural sites in their own right, apart from other aspects of schooling. The study examines third-grade students' patterns of response to implicit and explicit messages about the value and function of literacy in their lives as they are encoded in the organization of three school libraries, in those libraries' texts, and in the discursive practices and backgrounds of their librarians. Analysis of these responses leads to an interrogation of two principal accounts of how educational institutions in general attempt to reproduce the social order of late industrial capitalism, either through students' resistance to dominant ideological practices or through sociolinguistic congruence or incongruence between ways of using words at home and in school. As a counterargument to these two well-known frames of interpretation, the author proposes a third account, in which the meaning of the library and its ritual practices have been playfully reconstructed by students who have found, in the conflicting discourses of its librarian, in some of the library's narratives, and in the gaps of its organizational logic and procedures, the agency to make a space for themselves to read and write in "producerly" ways that negotiate with, rather than resist or conform to, the dominant ways of reading and using texts that the library promotes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-315
Number of pages49
JournalCurriculum Inquiry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Congruence, resistance, liminality: Reading and ideology in three school libraries'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this