23 SES 09 A, Resisting Neoliberalism in an Era of Risk: Local, national and transnational perspectives: Part 1
Symposium to be continued in 23 SES 12 A
This contribution seeks to shed light on the complex dynamic that produces cultural, economic and normative frames of reference for popular adult education, a type of adult education that stimulates learners to critically appraise their lives, and to act to change social conditions (Arnold & Burke, 1983; Kerka, 1985). The authors take the example of an Italian Third Age University, to examine its establishment and continuous operation over four decades, as an illustrative case of resistance to the dominant neoliberal discourse. Rather than examining the ways certain frames of reference are produced or considering their prognostic effects, the authors acknowledge the existence of, and interplay between, different frames of reference that allow those involved to make sense of and communicate about popular adult education within the Italian context. Further, a distinction is made between three types of frames: the cultural frame that gives meaning, and assigns values to, popular adult education as a context-, place, and time-specific experience; the normative frame that legitimises popular adult education provision, through a system of laws and regulations that, at different levels (European, national and local), allows the institution of popular adult education to function. Yet, the economic frame that necessarily supports such an institution. All the three types of frames are necessary for a public provider of popular adult education to be established and to remain in operation despite a dominant neoliberal discourse that values adult education in the same way as any other goods that provide utility in a global market, resulting in de-contextualised forms of provision which do not favour emancipatory learning. It is the authors’ argument that examining the interplay between cultural, normative and economic frames of references can bring to light interstices where resistance is not ‘surrender’ (Žižek, 2007) to a neoliberal discourse and therefore 1) critically examine how cultural, economic and normative frames of reference that result from international-national-local interactions can be locally appropriated and re/interpreted; and 2) understand what conditions may create spaces for physical, material or symbolic action that resist the dominant neoliberal discourse in popular adult education.
Arnold, R., Burke, B. (1983). A Popular Education Handbook. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education; Ottawa: CUSO Development Education. Kerka, S. (1997). Popular Education: Adult Education for Social Change. ERIC Digest No. 185. Columbus OH: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult Career and Vocational Education. Available from https://www.ericdigests.org/ [Accessed 27 March 2018]. Žižek, S. (2007). Resistance Is Surrender.London Review of Books [Online] 29 (22) p. 7. Available fromhttps://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n22/slavoj-zizek/resistance-is-surrender
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