PIAAC and the South – Is Southering the new Othering? Global Expansion of dominant Discourses on Adult Literacy


  • Anke Grotlüschen Hamburg University
  • Klaus Buddeberg Hamburg University




Global South, large-scale assessment, Othering, PIAAC, Southering


Large-scale studies such as Programme for the international assessment of adult competencies (PIAAC) are currently the most influential variant of literacy research. PIAAC is undergoing a process of regional expansion towards countries located in the geographical south. Based on the finding that large-scale studies can create stereotypes about social groups, this contribution examines the extent to which this danger also exists with regard to countries and regions. For doing so we suggest the term southering. Southering brings together the discourses about the South with the concept of othering, introduced by Said (1978). The presentation of the results as tables and world maps can result in exposing countries of the South to a pronounced deficit perspective. The contribution does not pursue the goal of questioning the legitimacy of international studies. Rather, we would like to point out the necessity of exercising due care in the interpretation of corresponding study results.


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How to Cite

Grotlüschen, A. ., & Buddeberg, K. (2020). PIAAC and the South – Is Southering the new Othering? Global Expansion of dominant Discourses on Adult Literacy. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 11(2), 167–181. https://doi.org/10.3384/rela.2000-7426.rela9214



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