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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Lifelong education and social policy : ideals and realities Kastner, Andrea Frances


Many claims have been made about the potential of Lifelong Education, when implemented as a social policy, to bring about a more just society. However, the assumptions underlying these and similar claims have seldom been critically scrutinized. For this reason, there is in the literature a concern that the concept of the "learning society" simply means lifelong schooling and is the rhetoric of social control. In this view, the potential of Lifelong Education as a transformative force for the development of a participator}' democracy and a more equitable distribution of resources remains a Utopian vision. In this work, an analysis of the assumptions, it was expected, would bring to light the ideological position embedded in Lifelong Education as a social policy tool. This research therefore, offers a systematic critical analysis of the expected outcomes of Lifelong Education policies. This required the development of a theoretical framework which built upon: 1.) Paulston's model of social change; 2.) Rawls' and others' concepts of justice and equality; and 3.) perspectives on the role of education in society outlined by Aronowitz and Giroux. This framework was employed to analyze 1.) selected publications of UNESCO on Lifelong Education, 2.) Canadian Association for Adult Education and Canadian Commission for UNESCO documents, and 3.) contemporary Canadian federal and provincial education policies. The findings of this analysis were compared with various models of social policy. Five principle findings emerged from the study. First, the literature, for the most part, reflects a view of society characterized by homogeneit3' and consensus. The model of social change is evolutional, and avoids the structural conflict perspectives. Second, a number of assumptions are made concerning some elements of a theory of justice, but no unified comprehensive theory of justice supports the literature's claims. Third, adopted in the literature is an ideal view of the role of Lifelong Education as a means of producing change in society. The absence of a critical perspective leaves Lifelong Education in the role of reproducing inequalities in society, vulnerable to application as a mechanism of manipulation rather than emancipation. Fourth, the social policy models implied by the literature are not models which are significantly redistributive in their aims. Finally, projected normative outcomes such as "the good society", "improved quality of life", and "a more just society" lack precise definition thereby leaving unexpressed the ideological position on which they are premised. This deprives the field the means of evaluating these policies. It is argued that if the role of educators in the development of democratic active participation of citizens in the collective formation of public policy is to be taken seriously, the ideological position of Lifelong Education must be more carefully defined and developed so that citizens can reflect on its principles, compare them with alternate ideological positions, and make their choices from this more informed position.

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