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Professionalisation of Adult Educators

International and Comparative Perspectives


Susanne Lattke and Wolfgang Jütte

In many regions of the world, professionalisation in adult and continuing education is brought into the focus of educational policy and research. Various fields of practice are looking for scientifical and political support in raising the level of professionalism. While there are no simple lessons to be learned from other countries, a closer analysis of international experience may reveal common and diverging interests. It may also provide worthwhile insights into opportunities and risks surrounding professionalisation. This edited volume is intended to further stimulate international exchange, cross-country approaches and comparative research in this field. It includes contributions to the theoretical debate and to the development of (comparative) research as well as reports on research findings and development activities concerning the professionalisation of adult educators.
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Professional cultures and a new conceptualisation of profession. Theoretical contributions to professionalisation of adult education


← 72 | 73 → Petra Heidegred Steiner

This article offers some insight into my investigation on “Professional cultures in Austrian adult education”. It discusses theoretical concepts to describing the group of adult educators and thoughts surrounding the conceptualisation of profession as such and tries to highlight their suitability for adult education as a heterogeneous working field. Most research focuses on professional image, competences and task profiles. The aspect of professionalisation which is focussed here is more on group-cohesion and institutionalisation. Two theoretical approaches are introduced in this paper: (1) professional cultures / social worlds within arenas and (2) a new and dynamic conceptualisation of profession. The introduced and discussed theoretical approaches might serve as an instrument for a more reflective self-understanding of adult education and in this respect promote professionalisation.

According to Lassnigg (2011, p. 37) Austria is a good example for the situation of adult education in many European countries in general. Lassnigg exemplifies the diversity of the field in terms of organisational, ideological and cultural backgrounds. Concerning the situation of adult education in Austria, a brief glance at the Austrian Conference of Adult Education Institutions (an important association of 10 major institutions in Austria that was founded in 19731) reveals extreme diversity and ideological heterogeneity. Adult education centres, religious institutions, interest groups of employees and entrepreneurs participate in this network. Moreover, the highly relevant factor of the Austrian Labour Market Service (AMS) must not be neglected. The AMS finances a large number of adult ← 73 | 74...

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