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Changing Configurations in Adult Education in Transitional Times

International Perspectives in Different Countries


Edited By Bernd Käpplinger and Steffi Robak

Change and transition are prominent buzzwords in the discourse upon adult education. International conferences like the European ESREA triennial research conference 2013 in Berlin focused on these terms. But is to deal with change and transitions really something new for adult education? What is new? What has changed? Which kind of transitions do we experience and how can we systematically observe and analyse them as researchers nowadays? This anthology wants to stimulate an exchange beyond buzzwords and European perspectives and investigate what these terms could mean for research in terms of institutionalisation and professionalization in adult education in different national contexts. Therefore, distinguished scholars were invited to contribute to this anthology.
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Strategies of Modernization and their Effects on Configurations of Adult Education – Theoretical Assumptions and Empirical Findings


Josef Schrader

1. Introduction

As a social subsystem, adult education and lifelong learning are subject to constant change. By using the term “change” focus is on social, cultural, and economical framework conditions. Against the background of these framework conditions, changes in configurations of adult education and lifelong learning are analyzed. In contrast, the term “modernization” is used when the focus is on targeted reforms of national and supranational political and civil society actors.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, the 1960s and 1970s can be considered as a “critical juncture” aiming at a welfare state modernization of adult education: The legal regulation and professionalization of adult education should contribute to establish curricular justified and demand-oriented programmes as well as to increase inclusion of socially disadvantaged “target groups”. However, the reform impetus quickly stagnated. Since the 1990s, concepts of quality management were increasingly implemented in adult education. These concepts originated in the economy and were later supported by national and international politics. By applying quality management, adult education providers were meant to increase their market orientation.

So far, the effects of these modernization strategies have hardly been examined in a theoretically well-founded way (see, for example, Rubenson/Desjardins 2009; Holford et al. 2010; Research voor Beleid 2011). This paper presents selected findings from a longitudinal research project focusing on structure and change in German adult education (Schrader 2011). As a first step, a model was developed which conceives adult education as a...

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