UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An analysis of concepts of marginality in adult education Parrish, MarDell C.


Concepts of marginality have found popular use in the field of adult education. Unfortunately indiscriminate usage of the term marginality has left too much latitude for misapplication, misinterpretation and misunderstanding. Clark was first to use the term, marginality, to denote a particular concept in the field. In his doctoral organizational case study, "Adult Education in Transition: A Study of Institutional Insecurity," University of California--Los Angeles, 1956, Clark identified a transition by the Adult Education Branch of the Los Angeles School System from a state of existence wherein traditional educational values prevailed to a state wherein the adult education schools had assumed a service orientation subservient to community demands. Clark's initial concept of marginality was developed to denote the final status of the Branch resulting from this transition. His subsequent uses of the term departed from denoting the status of an adult education subunit in relation to other subunits within a common parental educational school system to include other organizational and non-organizational applications. Clark was inconsistent in applying the term marginality and strayed from its application in his doctoral case-study-in-depth to describe the status of the Adult Education Branch of the Los Angeles School System. He also used marginality to denote the status of various other adult education subunits, including that of adult education administrative agencies, classes, departments, enterprises, schools, school programs, programs in general, a bureau, and professional administrators' society. Additionally, concepts of marginality were used by Clark in his dissertation to describe the low status of adult education administrators, functions, activities, programs, and a subunit organizational position. This thesis links Clark's initial concept to dictionary definitions, discusses problems in assessing and validating marginality within organizational contexts, establishes a typology for classification of usages within the literature, and pursues concept clarification and differentiation. Definitions are stated for (1) values marginality, (2) practice marginality, (3) autonomous extra-organizational marginality, (4) autonomous organizational marginality, (5) intra-organizational marginality, (6) human system marginality, (7) administrator system marginality, (8) client system marginality, (9) organizational system marginality, (10) organizational microsystem marginality, (11) organizational macro-system marginality, (12) organizational multiple subunit micro-system marginality, (13) organizational multiple subunit macro-system marginality, and (14) for the generic label applicable to organizational system marginality concepts--inter-system marginality. Suggestions for future research are also presented.

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