Intellectual technologies in the fashioning of learning societies


Edwards R (2004) Intellectual technologies in the fashioning of learning societies. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 36 (1), pp. 69-78.

First paragraph: There are a number of issues that intrigue me in current EU policy debates on lifelong learning and a learning society. The first is why learning is identified so centrally as a focus for policy. Education and training have always been important aspects of policy in the post-Second World War period, but they are now given even greater significance. Many of the responses to social and economic conditions are laid at the door of education and training as a first port of call. However, despite the logic built into the discourses of continuous change associated with constructs such as the knowledge economy and information society, this seems to over-emphasise the role of education generally and qualifications specifically in addressing social, economic and civic challenges. Second and perhaps more significantly, it is not simply education and training which are part of the policy embrace, but learning itself, as illustrated by discourses of lifelong learning, learning organisations and learning societies. Learning and learners become the focus of policy as much as, if not more than, structures of provision, wherein the individual is often positioned as responsible for their own condition, with less concern for the wider structures of inequality built into the labour market and social relations in general. The message at times seems to be one of consuming your way out of exclusion through learning and qualifications, when, of course, opportunities are structurally patterned. Thus, while access to skills and qualifications might be increased, they may not be widened (Green, 2002), and, despite or because of the specific discourses of lifelong learning in play, opportunity may be circumscribed. This is something which research can contribute to as much as challenge.

Educational Philosophy and Theory: Volume 36, Issue 1

Publication date31/12/2004
PublisherTaylor and Francis