The researcher analysed two women's uses of popular culture texts on the island of Hawai'i. They read these texts in order to learn about, and manage, their health problems. These vernacular texts were different from the institutional texts that were prescribed to them by their doctors, as well as the commercial ones that were in the literacy programme they attended. Their uses of these self-help texts reflected the staunchly religious community where they lived, as well as the post-welfare society, with pressures to solve their own problems. The researcher used ethnographic methods to learn about these issues. These popular materials provided the women with relaxation and meaning, which fit with their communities of practice. The study points to the value of knowing about learners' social practices for policymaking and the importance of incorporating these types of texts into programmes.
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, International Journal of Lifelong Education, 27 (3), 2008, © Informa Plc