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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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6 Challenging Gender with Life History


Edmee Ollagnier Life history - in being considered both as an episternological position and a practice - is a way to rebuild individual histories and to give a sense of History (the use of the capital denotes this wider, more collective sense). We can relate this double effect to different types of social contacts such as collectives of workers or collectives of pe.ople involved in any voluntary activity. Here, we choose to explore this double effect through ferninisrn as a collective History. After explaining why and how ferninisrn and gender debates rnight easily be considered as pertinent spaces for narratives, we will go through the History of the Wornen' s Liberation Movernent in Geneva with six wornen who were involved in a life history process a few years ago. We will see how this approach can be considered as a learning event. We will consider the History of the rnovernent as weil as examine the effects on the individuals of the processes involved. We will also show how such a collective process has a rneaning for individual and collective identity construction. The conclusion will open the debate on the irnportance of considering such collective pro ces ses in research and for educative projects in acadernia more widely. Feminism as a Space for Narratives In this first part of the chapter, we will show how gender studies can be ciearly connected with biographies in adult education. Life history as a leaming process is helpful for participants to express the unsaid words,...

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