Literacy by definition is simply the ability to read and write, though when put under analysis it can seem much more complex. If literacy truly was just the ability to read and write then where does comprehension come into play, also why do we seek to learn it, and not only that but where is the application of literacy as well? Literacy has an array of uses affected by many circumstances, and cannot be defined so simply. .
A literate person can read and write which is great for them, but what do they do with it from there? According to the authors of "Literacy Practices", David Barton and Mary Hamilton, literacy is used as a set social practices. These social practices of literacy are simply called literacy practices (Barton and Hamilton 22). With literacy being a social practice, it will be affected by social status, and the world around you. For example someone very wealthy that has had a top notch education may have a hard time having a conversation with an impoverished man from a third world country that has a very minimal literacy. Literacy is seen on different levels because of the availability to learn, and how strong the actual relationship with education is. Literacy practices will be "patterned by social institutions and power relationships and some literacies are more dominant, visible and influential than others."(Barton and Hamilton 27) Literacy practices vary in both strength and occurrence depending on the place in which they happen. Literacy practices involve values, attitudes, feelings, and social relationships. .
With literacy practices also come literacy events. Literacy events serve as concrete evidence of literacy practices. They are used as a tool for examining the functions and forms of oral and written language in action. To put it simply literacy events are any activity in which literacy has a role. As Barton and Hamilton describe, "Events are observable episodes which arise from practices and are shaped by them.