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Adult learning for citizenship: towards a reconstruction of the social purpose tradition

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This paper seeks to review and re-frame the idea of social purpose adult education in the context of a contemporary Risk Society and the interface between modernist and postmodernist influences on learning. After interrogating and critiquing the social purpose tradition in adult education, it relates this to the changing nature and widening scope of adult learning within a developing Learning Society. The paper puts forward the idea of Adult Learning for Citizenship as a way of maintaining and reconstructing social purpose learning within a Risk Society and as a necessary challenge and counter-focus to the dominant discourse of Lifelong Learning shaped by the economic imperative and framed very much in terms of human capital. In developing this argument, the paper proposes a new framework for Adult Learning for Citizenship which consists of four different but overlapping dimensions of social purpose learning: learning for inclusive citizenship, for pluralistic citizenship, for reflexive citizenship and for active citizenship. Within this framework, it develops new rationales for social purpose adult learning linked to instructive examples of practice from a range of international contexts. In conclusion, it examines the implications of such a framework for the praxis of adult educators.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1999-05-01

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