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Go your own way: lifelong learning and reflexive autobiographies in postmodernity

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This article provides an autobiographical account of two adult educators engaged in what may be seen as an identity crisis for contemporary adult education. Through our autobiographical analysis, we address the question of what it means to be an adult educator or to practice adult education in circumstances where dedifferentiation has taken hold under the sign of lifelong learning. First, we outline the challenges that are taking place to many of the practices and institutional structures of adult education. At the heart of these, we argue that there is an intensification of reflexivity wherein the identity crisis with which we are working is both a condition for and a response to increasing individualization and reflexivity. Second, we illustrate the link between reflexivity and identity by drawing on our own autobiographies. Here we exemplify the processes we argue to be operating under the sign of lifelong learning through the exploration of our own autobiographical bricolages. Third, we explore the cultural conditions which give rise to the similarities and differences in these bricolages, in particular the rise of the new middle classes, the increased significance of popular culture and the development of postmodern positions.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2000

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