Is ignorance bliss? Is adult literacy a social problem?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 00:00

According to Madhu Kambamettu, postgraduate student in Sociology, it may be more accurate to characterise the current era as an age of ignorance rather than a ‘”knowledge age”. With the increasing specialisation of the knowledge society, knowledge in some areas means ignorance in others, a phenomenon that has been labelled the “knowledge-ignorance paradox”.  Madhu will undertake an investigative study of the knowledge-ignorance paradox in Irish society, in the context of the “Celtic Tiger” economy and the subsequent economic crash. By examining the lived experience of information consumers, he hopes to uncover how and where patterns of ignorance can form, and develop a comparative analysis by drawing on evidence adduced in other countries.  Madhu is hoping to make an important contribution, both theoretically and empirically, to the developing sociology of ignorance.

To reach adulthood without literacy skills is a major challenge. But adult literacy is not just an individual challenge. It is, says postgraduate student Maighread Tobin, a social challenge.  Adult literacy was first constructed as a social problem in the twentieth century. Drawing on archival materials from a range of sources, Maighread plans to examine the complex relationship between the intensely private issue of literacy (which continues to affect a surprisingly large group in the population), and the public responses developed both by civil society groups and the Irish state.  Using a Foucauldian genealogical analysis she will demonstrate how the ways in which adult literacy has been constructed in the public sphere have come to shape present day understandings of adult literacy.

Madhu and Maighread are among the newest intake of postgraduate students in the Faculty of Social Science at the National University of Ireland Maynooth who will show case their research projects in a Poster Exhibition in the Seminar Room, Auxilia building 10:00-12:00 Wednesday, April 16th, 2014.   Come along if you want to find out more about exciting research being undertaken in the Department.  

The poster presentation has been made possible by support from the Centre for Teaching and Learning, Maynooth University.

For students thinking of continuing their studies, we will be running an information session at 12:00 (same venue) on the Department’s postgraduate programme including information on a new Taught M.A. and on funding opportunities for postgraduate work at Maynooth University.

For more information contact