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Using Biographical and Life History Approaches in the Study of Adult and Lifelong Learning: European Perspectives


Edited By Linden West, Peter Alheit, Anders Siig Anderson and Barbara Merrill

This book illuminates the rich and creative uses of biographical and life history approaches in studying adult and lifelong learning, in diverse ways and settings, across many European countries. It draws on the work of internationally known scholars – under the auspices of the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA) – and encompasses learning in the workplace, in families, communities, schools, colleges and universities, as well as in the professions, and in managing processes of migration and building new social movements. The reader will discover, in these pages, a compelling chronicle of the interplay of learning across people’s lives – formal, informal and intimate – and how to make sense of this, using interdisciplinary perspectives. The book will speak to researchers – new and experienced – and educators and other professionals wanting to extend their understanding of learners and learning as well as the potential of this ‘family’ of research methods.


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There are particular peopIe we would Iike to thank for their invaluable assistance in preparing this book: Henning Salling Olesen, Kirsten Weber, Agnieszka Bron and Edmee Ollagnier for their helpful comments in the development of the book and contributions to specific chapters. Leanne Battersby and Emma Stewart in the Department of Educational Research at Canterbury Christ Church University for their painstaking work in helping prepare the text for printing. Annette Karseras Sumi and Ankur Trehan, for help finalizing Camera Ready Copy from their base in Japan. Annette also assisted in preparing the Preface and in drawing important connections between the present Volume and the first in the new Peter Lang/ESREA series on active citizenship and multiple identities in Europe. She has been a tower of strength in sorting out last minute problems and shoulders the blame for any words you can' t find in the index ! We would also I ike to thank Ute Winkel kötter and Michael Ruecker, from Peter Lang, for their support in developing the book. Last but not least, we wish to thank the members of the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults Life History and Biography Network: the book is the outcome of rich conversations over many years among a diverse and dedicated group of people. Like life history itself, the book has been a profoundly collaborative endeavour. Linden West, Peter Alheit, Anders Siig Andersen and Barbara Merrill August 2006.

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