Dominant Discourses and Language Socialization in the Literacy Practices of a Spanish-Speaking Church
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Over the years, research has investigated language in communities, schools and homes, community programs and to a lesser degree research investigates language use in religious communities. In particular, there is a lack of research on religious language and literacy practices in Hispanic communities, especially those in the United States, although incipient work has revealed the importance of religious literacy among women Mexican immigrants (Farr, 2000) and for the socialization of children into a Mexican identity (Baquedano-López, 1997). Given the hostile local sociopolitical environment of Spanish in the state of Arizona in the Southwestern United States, the church is one of the few contexts in which Hispanic communities maintain Spanish, especially Spanish literacy. The present study investigates a Spanish-speaking church in the Southwest of the United States through ethnographic and participant observation methods. Observations, field notes and transcribed audio-recordings of literacy practices in this context over the course of one year were analyzed based on dominant Discourses (Gee, 2008) and language socialization. The analysis demonstrates how a dominant Discourse of “holiness” is produced and reproduced within the community adherence to authoritative texts and socialization into specific community literacy practices such as scripture reading, directing worship services and interpretation of Biblical stories.
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