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Adult learning in new social movements : a conceptual inquiry into the voluntary simplicity movement Crisfield, Erin Marie

Abstract

The purpose of this project is to explore adult learning in new social movements through the case of the voluntary simplicity movement. The goals of the project are: to add to the research on adult learning within new social movements, to contribute to the discussions of transformative learning and sociocultural learning, and to influence the practice of educators who are working within new social movements. 1 approach the research with both theoretical and practical questions and goals, identifying myself as a scholarly practitioner by reflecting on both theory and practice with the intent of influencing the practice of those involved in related work as well as contributing to knowledge construction. In this research, I draw on the literature of a particular movement and on various streams of theoretical literature in order to generate new knowledge about adult learning in new social movements. Using elements of the Precede-Proceed model (Green & Kreuter, 1999), I show the predisposing, enabling, and reinforcing factors of adult learning in the voluntary simplicity movement. These factors present a picture of what comprises the various aspects of adult learning in this movement. Further exploration of the factors in light of Kilgore’s (1999) conception of collective learning leads to an understanding that identity, agency, and solidarity are the three main components of adult learning in the voluntary simplicity movement. Both transformative learning and sociocultural learning theories illuminate aspects of the data in ways that contribute to and reinforce my analysis that learning in the movement revolves around identity, agency, and solidarity. Implications for both theory and practice are explored with suggestions for hrther research.

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