Transitions in lifelong learning: public issues, private troubles, liminal identities



Field J (2012) Transitions in lifelong learning: public issues, private troubles, liminal identities. Studies for the Learning Society, 2 (2-3), pp. 4-11.π=1;

The paper seeks to reconceptualise the significance of transitions in adult learning. It combines reflection on existing research with an analysis of original data on adults' experiences of significant educational transitions. The paper starts by considering how lifelong learning and mobilities of various kinds have become absorbed into, and expressed in, the policy mainstream. It then discusses the ways in which researchers are addressing this topic. While researchers are pursuing many lines of inquiry into transitions, and using a wide range of methods (including new statistical techniques), the analysis in this paper is primarily concerned with questions of identity, and particularly the idea of learner identity. I then briefly illustrate the analysis with cases from a research project that is designed to explore aspects of a very specific pair of transitions: movement into, and then through, the higher education system among a group of people who can be defined as non-traditional students. The paper concludes by proposing the idea of a liminal identity, understood as shaped through social and cultural processes which are formed and re-formed in dynamic relationships with others. This perspective has implications for practice as well as for research.

Lifelong learning; Educational transitions; Liminal identities

Studies for the Learning Society: Volume 2, Issue 2-3

Publication date31/12/2012
Publication date online04/2012
PublisherVersita, Warsaw
Publisher URL…d449e2fdb9a9π=1

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Professor John Field

Professor John Field

Emeritus Professor, Education