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Changing Configurations in Adult Education in Transitional Times

International Perspectives in Different Countries


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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“Configurations” of (Adult) Education: Reflections on Concepts How to Compare Complex Cultural Settings


Peter Alheit

1. Introduction

Undoubtedly, there are global trends which cannot be overseen: The ‘McDonaldization’ of eating habits may be one of it, perhaps also the triumphal procession of the iPhone or recently mass protests especially of young people in totally different political cultures. A global trend of particular transformations in international adult education, however, cannot really be witnessed. Certainly, there are ‘drives’ such as the transformative-learning-movement (cf Auretto, 2001). The ideas of Jack Mezirow have a remarkable influence throughout the world, beyond question. But on closer inspection, their protagonists are extremely homogenous as far as their socio-cultural background is concerned and they are far away to mirror the multiculturalism of the global community. I made personally the completely surprising experience to be invited as keynote speaker to a congress on biographical research at Porto Alegre (Brazil) with more than 2.000 adult educators participating. Also this topic has obviously an appeal particularly in transformation societies. On the other hand, we observe that its attractiveness is on the decrease in post-modern societies of the Western world (cf Alheit/Dausien, 2009).

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