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The learning society: postmodern politics

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Abstract:

The notion of a 'learning society' is one that crops up increasingly today in the ongoing debate about the future of education in the postmodern world, together with its twin notion, 'lifelong learning'. This article discusses the contemporary discourse within which this debate tends to be contextualized and finds several worrying factors about it: namely that it has a vocationalist, managerialist, thrust, is oriented towards the requirements of the market and the global economy and the needs of employers, and subjected to the principle of peformativity. The article concurrently examines recent trends in adult and continuing education that confirm this agenda, and asks how it can be resisted. The possibility of creating a counter-utopia or counter-discourse to it which replaces performativity with justice is proposed, but this runs into the objections of postmodernists against the employment of master narratives. The article then examines whether there are alternative resources within 'postmodernism' itself which do not fall foul of these objections within which an oppositional discourse could be constructed.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/026013700293449

Publication date: January 1, 2000

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