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Educational generations and the futures of adult education: a Nordic experience

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In this study of the meanings of education and learning in people's lives, educational generations in Finland were investigated. The analysis is based on Karl Mannheim's concept and theory of social generation. This approach resulted in the differentiation of four educational cohorts living in contemporary Finnish society, three of which provided distinct core life experiences and educational experiences for analysis. These are: the war generation with scant education (born before 1935); the generation of structural change with growing educational opportunities (born 1936–55) and the welfare generation with many educational choices (born after 1955). This article, reviews the characteristics of these generations, and analyses the dynamics of their educational courses and experiences. It is concluded that their core experiences of education can be summarized in two basic narratives: the narrative of national culture and that of economic structural change. Finally, it is argued that such generational change reflects the more general rationalization of Western culture and society. Based on this argumentation, the future of adult education based on the application of Weberian social theory and its conceptions of material and formal rationality are considered.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2002

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