Resisting feelings of social inferiority for people in situations of illiteracy
The principal remarks concerning illiteracy refer to the suffering and « global language distress » to which is sometimes added the image of an illiterate person in a world of « social isolation ». Must one accept this representation of illiteracy ? Circumspectly, our sociological position is to turn the problem around, no longer considering the « illiterate » person solely from the point of view of his/her deficit but also from that of his/her capacity to act and to integrate socially. Consequently, the aim of this article is to show that illiteracy is not synonymous with violence or exclusion, but a situation where two social elements are engaged : that of a handicap where there are risks of inferiority or social indignity, and that of practical resources where the illiterate person develops a resistance to this stigmatization. To support this hypothesis, we encountered those concerned in order to examine how illiteracy is conceived, thought and spoken about and experienced. During the study which took place in the Bordeaux region, 69 people in a situation of illiteracy were interviewed. As a conclusion to this article it can be observed that illiteracy is not always felt to be a major handicap by those identified as such and that their experience is not limited to a feeling of disgrace crossed with guilt.