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'In and against' lifelong learning: flexibility and the corrosion of character

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This paper argues against the dominant discourse of lifelong learning. It is primarily a mode of social control that acts as a new disciplinary technology to make people more compliant and adaptable for work in the era of flexible capitalism. Whilst the main reference point is trends in the UK, the argument has a wider resonance. Lifelong learning diminishes the public sphere, undermines educational activity, introduces new mechanisms of self-surveillance and reinforces the view that failure to succeed is a personal responsibility. It is ultimately a 'deficit discourse', which locates the responsibility of economic and political failure at the level of the individual, rather than at the level of systemic problems.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2004

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