This volume is one of the four readers compiled as part of the course Language and Literacy (Code E825) which is one module of the (UK) Open University MA in Education programme. The papers includeed in this volume are all concerned with the empirical investigations of language and literacy in social context and provide models of a kind useful to individual researchers contemplating small scale studies. The articles demonstrate aspects of method, analysis, and the use of empirical data in presentation and argunient. Much of the research reported here took place in an educational context, but the methods and techniques exemplified are the ones which can easily be extended to non educational settings and indeed, anywhere that people talk, read or write in the course of leisure or work activities.