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
In previous studies, we have found that Danish adult education has undergone dramatic changes over the past 50 years due to the neoliberal discourse (Larson & Cort, in press). From an embeddedness in Danish traditions with a focus on adult education as a public policy contributing to general, democratic and vocational education, adult education has over the years drifted into a private-public partnership between the state and the social partners and with a one-sided focus on employability (Larson & Cort, in press; Rasmussen, Larson, & Cort, under review). Whereas popular education (folkeoplysning) previously played an important role in the understanding and formulation of adult education policy, this strand of adult education has been marginalised (Larson & Cort, in press). However, as a part of the adult educational landscape popular education continues to play a role in adult education and to constitute a potential for resistance to the neoliberal educational discourse. In this paper, we look into popular education in order to identify pockets of resistance at both the level of the institutions of popular education (such as evening schools, folk high schools, folk university etc.) and as a central value behind adult education grass-roots activities. We look into three cases of popular education, which represent both traditional popular education and newer popular education projects. The aim is look into the specific cases and discuss how popular education may still provide an alternative conceptualisation of adult education compared to the hegemonic idea of education as a means to an ‘employable’ end, as well as to how popular education has changed due to changes in public subsidies and an increased degree of marketization and commercialisation. The research will be explorative and based on studies of documents (legislation, reports, websites etc.) and interviews with central stakeholders and participants. Theoretically, we will draw on Biesta’s (2010) concepts of qualification, socialisation and subjectification to discuss what adult education ‘is good for’. Biesta’s functional conceptualisation will be expanded with Freire’s ideas of democratic education and how education can transform society through social movements (Freire, 1985; Mayo, 1999). The Freirian binary concepts of banking education-problem-solving education will be expanded with our own tentative concept of ‘Netflix’ education emphasising the danger of commercialisation undermining popular education’s transformative potential.
Biesta, G. J. J. (2010). Good Education in an Age of Measurement. Ethics, Politics, Democracy. London: Paradigm Publishers. Biesta, G. J. J. (2010). Good Education in an Age of Measurement. Ethics, Politics, Democracy. London: Paradigm Publishers. Freire, P. (1985). The politics of education: Culture, power and liberation. Houndsmill: Macmillan. Larson, A., & Cort, P. (in press). The marginalisation of popular education - 50 years of Danish adult education policy. In L. Tett & M. Hammilton (Eds.), Resisting neoliberalism in education: local, national and transnational perspectives. Bristol, UK: Policy Press. Mayo, P. (1999). Gramsci, Freire and adult education: possible transformative action. London: ZED. Rasmussen, P., Larson, A., & Cort, P. (under review). The vocational turn of adult education in Denmark. International Journal of Lifelong Education.
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