‘They burn so bright whilst you can only wonder why’

Stories at the intersection of social class, capital and critical information literacy — a collaborative autoethnography





critical information literacy, autoethnography, higher education, social class, UK, information literacy


In this article we connect critical librarianship and its practices of information literacy (IL) with working-class experiences of higher education (HE). Although the research literature and professional body of knowledge of critical information literacy (CIL), is one of the most theoretically-developed areas of wider critical librarianship (Critlib) movement, working-class knowledge and experiences remain underrepresented.

One reason for this is that the values, behaviour and assumptions of library and HE workers are shaped by a HE system which inculcates middle-class values and cultural capitals within students, and stigmatises working-class students as lacking or in deficit. Hegemonic, or non-critical, IL proselytises middle-class values and assumptions about academic practices and skills development including the notion of an ideal student with behaviour and markers of identity which reflect those most privileged by wider society. In contrast CIL, framed as the socially-just practice of IL is theoretically well-placed to support working-class library workers in destabilising this alongside middle-class accomplices.

Employing Yosso’s (2005) concept of community and cultural wealth (CCW), we analyse how library workers can recognise working-class cultural wealth within the context of CIL and wider working practices. As such narrative accounts are lacking in the literature, we utilise collaborative autoethnography (CAE) (Chang et al., 2013) to consider and interpret our own experiences of libraries when we were university students ourselves, and more recently as HE workers of working-class heritage.






Critical Information Literacy: Research articles (peer-reviewed articles)