Accountability mechanisms in adult education, their constitution and their effects, are of increasing concern in an era threatening massive reductions to resources for adult education activity. Such mechanisms are frequently portrayed as unassail ably oppressive. However, alternative
analyses have illuminated contradictions and ambiguities in the assembly and mobilization of such mechanisms that offer escape routes and non-calculable or even transgressive spaces. Actor–network theory (ANT), for example, increasingly has been employed in studies of accountability
systems and the evaluation mechanisms serving them. This article presents sample studies that draw from ANT to analyse processes of accountability in workplace learning, professional education, literacy tutoring and public pedagogy. These examples establish not only the complexities of calculation
as it is enacted through heterogeneous networks, but also the spaces of non-calculation that can be found or torn open to allow more freedom of play. The conclusion summarizes ANT's theoretical contributions to the study of accountability in adult education, and suggests further work that
might be undertaken to develop ANT's potential contributions to evaluative practices in adult education.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: September 1, 2010
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Studies in the Education of Adults is an international refereed academic journal, publishing theoretical, empirical and historical studies from all sectors of post-initial education and training. It provides a forum for the debate and development of key concepts. Studies in the education of adults is published by NIACE in association with the Standing Conference on University Research and Teaching in the Education of Adults (SCUTREA), the Universities Association for Continuing Education (UACE) and the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA).