23 SES 07 A, Navigating Shifting Geographies of Lifelong Learning Policies Part 1
Symposium to be continued in 23 SES 08 A
Lifelong learning policy links (at the least) policies on adult education, vocational education and training, in-service training, (active) labour market, and social benefits. Indisputably, these policies require a complex coordination of learners, providers, employers and public authorities, at times with the support of advisory bodies. National governments regulate and provide some of the services subsumed in lifelong learning policies, but sub-national arrangements are key in most (if not all) European countries. Moreover, local governments also participate in various schemes that coordinate lifelong learning policies and services in urban areas, industrial clusters, logistic nodes, rural areas and other types of territorial configurations. At the same time, the European Union has deployed an array of policy mechanisms that affect these policies through diverse instruments and tools aimed at combatting early school leaving and (youth) unemployment, hence supporting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe.
In this symposium researchers involved in two collaborative projects funded under the Horizon 2020 Programme will interrogate this set of policies through the lens of specialised theories on governance (Rhodes, 1997), political economy (Jessop, 2010), the labour market, welfare regimes (Roosmaa & Saar, 2017), bounded agency (Evans, 2007; Rubenson & Desjardins, 2009), and the life course (Evans at al., 2013; Blossfeld et al., 2014). Remarkably, these theories normally conclude that new layers of governance are in the making, and complex interactions between stakeholders are being established at varying geographical scales throughout the European Union. Thus, normative conceptions, strategic goals, and European schemes engage in a true ‘journey’ before they reach the local level. In the meantime, local experiences are shared with, and disseminated to, other settings as examples of best practices, which triggers new interactions between local and supra-local layers of governance.
The symposium is structured in two sessions.
Part I aims at debating the relationship between levels of governance in lifelong learning and adult education policies within Europe. The papers explore European governance mechanisms that promote changes at national and local levels, considers the local embeddedness of lifelong learning policies and their role in preventing and/or overcoming graduates’ education-job mismatch, and investigate the role of different service providers in stimulating lifelong learning among vulnerable adults in different welfare regimes.
Part II aims at opening a discussion on the definition of target groups. Although lifelong learning aims at becoming universal, so far the corresponding policies are targeted to specific social groups. In addition, the composition of these groups is quite heterogeneous across the EU member states. The papers explore a number of policies where different layers of governance play a role. So, it explores the role of European, national and sub-national governments in lifelong learning policy-making.
Overall the set of papers included in this symposium argues for the need of ‘thicker’ and more nuanced comparative analysis then large-scale, cross-country survey studies of lifelong learning within and across Europe. In so doing, it advances theoretical approaches that can support this endeavour to interrogate, particularly, important issues around visibility, access, opportunities, and outcomes of learning opportunities among vulnerable groups.
Blossfeld, H.-P., Kilpi-Jakonen, E., de Vilhena, D. V., & Buchholz, S. (2014). Adult Learning In Modern Societies: An International Comparison from a Life-Course Perspective: Edward Elgar Publishing. Evans, K. (2007) Concepts of bounded agency in education, work and personal lives of young adults, International Journal of Psychology (interdisciplinary issue) 42 (2), 1–9. Evans, K., Schoon, I., & Weale, M. (2013) Can Lifelong Learning Reshape Life Chances?, British Journal of Educational Studies, 61:1, 25-47. Roosmaa, E.-L. and Saar, E. (2017). Adults who do not want to participate in learning: a cross-national European analysis of their perceived barriers. International Journal of Lifelong Education, Vol. 36, pp. 254-277. Jessop, B. (2010). Cultural Political Economy and Critical Policy Studies. Critical Policy Studies, Vol. 3, Nos. 3-4: 336-356. Rhodes, R.A.W. (1997). Understanding Governance. Policy Networks, Governance, Reflexivity and Accountability. Buckingham: Open University press. Rubenson, K., & Desjardins, R. (2009). The Impact of Welfare State Regimes on Barriers to Participation in Adult Education: A Bounded Agency Model. Adult Education Quarterly, 59(3), 187-207.
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