ERG SES H 05, Lifelong Learning and Education
Educational science has not sufficiently dealt with the issues of power relations, which is particularly applicable to the field of adult education. Ignoring the existence of inequality is possibly rooted in emancipatory metanarrative (Lyotard, 1984) since contemporary forms of adult education have originated as a part of historical social movements. The practice of adult education is often based on the ideas of critical theory that rest on the belief that education and knowledge need to develop a critical awareness and liberate the marginalized groups from the oppressor. Adult educators have naively observed educational activities as practices of equal relationships by practicing “new” methods that had to be different from those that were dominant in formal education; consequently, power has been located outside of the classroom. The shift in the approach to education and learning that took place in the twentieth century, from the centeredness on the teachers towards greater cooperation with students did not dissolve or tame power relations (Deacon, 2006). The basic hypothesis of the research is that power relations are omnipresent in adult education and that they are mainly created and preserved through dominant epistemological bias. Drawing on Foucauldian perspective on power/knowledge as the main conceptual framework, the research aims to identify some mechanisms of power in adult education that are based on epistemological assumptions.
Adult education is social practice in which power relations are created, maintained and reproduced through the existing neutral beliefs that are rooted in the answer to the question “what is knowledge”. An insight into other current research in the field of adult education (Mayo & English, 2012; Mayo, 1999; Grummell, 2004; Olssen, 2008) showed no lack of critical analysis of current educational policies that have primarily functionalist perspective and take care of the exercise of current economic goals. Neoliberal policy is usually criticized by European authors who explore current recommendations of the European Commission, but who also remain in the same time close to the emancipatory education paradigm. In contrast to this research perspective, my search is more directed towards the discovery of mechanisms of power relations within the adult education.
Epistemological biases have been largely understood as a reality and common sense in the field of education. Assumption of the study is that they are actually an architecture of the discourses that define social positions in the adult education classroom and that they are embedded in theories of learning that are starting point for adult education practice. The research does not aim to answer the question of who has the power, thus locating it in a specific institution or authority, but the aim is to investigate the mechanisms of its functioning.
The last fifteen years, an increasing number of authors in the field of adult education (see Brookfield, 2005; Chapman, 2003, English, 2006; Tisdell, 1998) used in their research poststructuralist approach that provides conceptual tools for dealing with issues of power, discourse and knowledge (English & Irving, 2008). Foucault's concepts, methods and arguments calling researchers to observe what is behind pragmatic policy formulation and abstract theoretical critique to explore the daily operation and effects of power relations, forms of knowledge and the way we relate to ourselves and to others (Wain, 1996). I have also attempted to incorporate in my theoretical approach issues raised within the feminist epistemology (Haraway, 1988) in order to overcome critiques that were directed to Foucault’s relativism of power relations. Feminist approach is concerned with the questions on nature and construction of knowledge which has been analysed in the context of gender inequality, class stratification and colonialism.
Brookfield, S. (2005). The Power of Critical Theory for Adult Learning And Teaching. New York: Open University Press. Champan, V. L. (2003). On 'Knowing one's self' selfwriting, power and ethical practice: Reflections from an adult educator. Studies in the Education of Adults, 35(1), 35-53. Deacon, R. (2006). Michel Foucault on education: a preliminary theoretical overview. South African Journal of Education, 26(2), 177–187. Dreyfus, H. J. & Rainbow, P. (1982). Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. Chicago: UCP. English, L. M. & Irving, C. J. (2008). Issues of Knowledge, Power, and Discourse in Researching Gender and Learning. Adult Education Quarterly, 58(4). English, L. M. (2006). A Foucauldian Reading of Learning in Feminist, Nonprofit Organizations. Adult Education Quarterly, 56(2), 85-101. Fairclough, N. (1992). Discourse and Text: Linguistics and intertextual analysis within discourse analysis. Discourse and Society, 3(2): 193-217. Fairclough, N. (1995). Critical discourse analysis: the critical study of language. London i New York: Longman. Foucault M (1972). The Archaeology of Knowledge and The Discourse on Language. New York: Pantheon Books. Foucault, M. (1980). Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–1977. Gordon, C. (Ed.). New York: Pantheon. Foucault, M. (1988). Technologies of the Self. In Martin, L.H. et al (Eds.) Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault (pp.16-49). London: Tavistock. Glaser, B. (1978). Theoretical sensitivity: Advances in grounded theory. Mill Valley: The Sociology Press. Grummell, B. (2009). The Educational Character of Public Service Broadcasting From Cultural Enrichment to Knowledge Society. European Journal of Communication, 24(3), 267-285. Haraway, D. (1988). Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspectives. Feminist Studies, 14(3), 575–599. Lyotard, J. (1984). The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Manchaster: Manchester University Press. Mayo, P. & Englsih, L. M. (2012). Learning with Adults - A Critical Pedagogical Introduction. Rotterdam, Boston, Taipei: Sense Publishers. Mayo, P. (1999). Gramsci, Freire and Adult Education. London: Zed Books. Rogers, R. (2004). An Introduction to Critical Discourse Analysis in Education. In Rogers, R. (Ed.). An Introduction to Critical Discourse Analysis in Education (pp. 1-19). Mahwah, New Jersey, London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. Olssen, M. (2008). Understanding the mechanisms of neoliberal control: lifelong learning, flexibility and knowledge capitalism. London, New York: Routledge. Tisdell, E. J. (1998). Poststructural Feminist Pedagogies: The Possibilities and Limitations of Feminist Emancipatory Adult Learning Theory and Practice. Adult Education Quarterly, 48 (3), 139-156.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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