Beyond the abstractions! Adult education research from idealism to critical social science
The anniversary of the International Journal of Lifelong Education can participate in a conceptual landslide from lifelong education to lifelong learning. Contemporary discourses of lifelong learning etc. are abstractions behind which new functions and agendas for adult education are set. The ideological discourse of recent policies seems to neglect the fact that history and resources for lifelong learning are different across Europe, and also neglects the multiplicity of adult learners. Instead of refusing the new agendas, however, adult education research should try to dissolve the abstractions by broadening its scope of interest, by focussing on differences of learners, by age, gender, ethnicity, social experience, and differences in context, by socioeconomic environment, culture etc. Practically, it is argued, this means embracing the new focus on informal learning and work related learning. Adult education research must fulfil its potential conversion from normative philosophy to critical and empirical social science.
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