Power and Possibility

Adult Education in a Diverse and Complex World


Power has been a defining and constitutive theme of adult education scholarship for over a century and is a central concern of many of the most famous and influential thinkers in the field. Adult education has been particularly interested in how an analysis of power can be used to support transformative learning and democratic participation. In a fragile and interdependent world these questions are more important than ever. The aim of this collection is to offer an analysis of power and possibility in adult education which acknowledges, analyzes and responds to the complexity and diversity that characterizes contemporary education and society.

Power and Possibility: Adult Education in a Diverse and Complex World explores the topic of power and possibility theoretically, historically and practically through a range of perspectives and in relation to varied areas of interest within contemporary adult education. It is concerned with addressing how power works in and through adult education today by exploring what has changed in recent years and what is shaping and driving policy. Alongside this the book explores ways of theorizing learning, power and transformation that builds and extends adult education philosophy. In particular it takes up the themes of diversity and solidarity and explores barriers and possibilities for change in relation to these themes.
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Fergal Finnegan is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Adult and Community Education, Maynooth University and is a co-director of the Doctorate in Higher and Adult Education programme. His background is in community education and his research interests include transformative learning, biographical research, social class, equality and higher education.
Bernie Grummell is a Senior Lecturer in the Departments of Education and Adult & Community Education, Maynooth University. She previously worked with the School of Sociology and the Equality Studies Centre, University College Dublin. She is a co-director of the Doctoral programmes in Higher and Adult Education. Research interests include equality and inclusion issues in education.
The European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA)
Notes on Contributors
1. Power and Possibility in Adult Education: Reflecting on Old Themes in New Times
Fergal Finnegan and Bernie Grummell

Part 1: Taking the Long View of Continuities and Change in Adult Education

2. Revisiting the Faure Report and the Delors Report: Why Was UNESCO’S Utopian Vision of Lifelong Learning an “Unfailure”?
Maren Elfert
3. Comparative and Global Policy Studies on Adult Education: Key Patterns in Contemporary Adult Education Policy Research
Marcella Milana
4. “The Politics of Responsibility” Revisited: An Analysis of Power as a Central Construct in Program Planning
Thomas J. Sork and Bernd Käpplinger

Part 2: The Age of Metrics and the Reconfiguration of Policy and Practice in Adult Education

5. The Role of Transnational Bodies in Lifelong Learning and the Politics of Measurement: The Promise and Pitfalls of Outcomes-Based Assessment into Recognition of Prior Learning System in Portugal
Rosanna Barros
6. The Discourses of PIAAC: Re-imagining Literacy through Numbers
Mary Hamilton
7. The Challenge of Competence Assessment: Problematizing Institutional Regimes – Proclaiming a Paradigm Shift?
Henning Salling Olesen

Part 3: Theorising Power and Possibility in a Complex World

8. Recognition and Redistribution: Rethinking the Meaning of Justice in Adult Education
Lyn Tett
9. Re-Infusing Adult Education with a Critical Feminist Framework: Inspiration from Mary Parker Follett
Leona M. English
10. Enacting Equality: Rethinking Emancipation and Adult Education with Jacques Ranciere
Kerry Harman
11. Time, Power and the Emancipatory Aims of Adult Education
Michel Alhadeff-Jones

Part 4: Power in a Diverse and Complex World

12. Questioning Power Relations: Learning Processes through Solidarity with Refugees
Brigitte Kukovetz and Annette Sprung
13. Embracing Social Inclusion? The Asylum Seeker Experience of Applying for Admission to Tertiary Education in Australia
Karen Dunwoodie, Susan Webb and Jane Wilkinson
14. Nurturing Solidarity in Diversity: The Superdiverse Shop Floor of Tower Automotive in Ghent
Joke Vandenabeele and Pascal Debruyne

Part 5: Making Hope Practical

15. Democratic and Intercultural Dialogue across Universities, Communities and Movements
Linden West
16. The Impact of Transformative Learning on Social Transformations: A Comparative Study of Participatory Budgets in Maribor (Slovenia) and Rosario (Argentina)
Marta Gregor.i. and Sabina Jelenc Kra.ovec
17. Theorising Adult Education, Power and Socio-Environmental Change: A Consideration of the Climate Justice Movement
Pierre Walter and Jenalee Kluttz
Adult education researchers and academics, adult education practitioners and policy-makers, postgraduate students and researchers in adult education, education, social movements studies, sociology and politics, organisational studies.
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