1 Department of Education - Curriculum Research, Danish School of Education, Arts, Aarhus University2 Danish School of Education - Research Programme on Lifelong Learning, Danish School of Education, Arts, Aarhus University3 Danish School of Education - Research Programme on Lifelong Learning, Danish School of Education, Arts, Aarhus University
The scope of this paper is to outline some theoretical and methodological parameters for investigating the effects of globalization on adult education, by looking at the interactions between inter-states organizations and other political actors in the shaping of ‘global’ adult education policy. Milana (2012) argues that the work by inter-states organizations has created a shift in social imaginaries on the relation between education, work and the socio-economic development of nation-states, which inform a ‘global polity’ (Corry 2010), or mobilization of a set of social actors, towards the governance of adult education. Accordingly, adult education has been made an explicit subject of political action based on de-territorialized norms. This global polity materializes in a variety of artifacts such as joint recommendations, declarations and frameworks for future action under the auspicious of UNESCO, policy briefs, reports and cross-national studies by the OECD but with the voluntarily participation of its members, or in communications, conclusions and resolutions by the EU joint institutions, however based on wide consultations among a set of social actors within and across states. Still, much adult education research is still locked in a ‘nation-state, policy-as-government paradigm’ (Ball, 2012, p. xii). In this paper I review theoretical and methodological contributions to capturing the global dimension of policy that crosses (material and ideational) sites and (social and political) issues and interacts with agents, concepts, imaginaries and technologies (among others Carney 2012, Rizvi & Lingard 2010, Shore Wright & Però 1997). Drawing on such literature, I suggest few parameters to research the global polity structure that governs AE. The first parameter recognizes that shared ideas, norms, and values about AE, even when crystallized in a discourse or artifact, differently interacts with contextualized agencies (homogeneity AND heterogeneity). In the meantime, the mobilization of agents within local, national, regional and international environments always carries instances of other interactions that occur across environments (mono- AND multi-scalar). Further, concrete, virtual and ideational environments in which agents interacts are interconnected. Even if these connections may be difficult to observe in their complexity, some instances can be empirically captured (physical AND non-physical environments). Finally, artifacts do not only carry meanings but can also contribute to their transformation in interactions with human agencies. Yet the reach of human actors depends on individual and institutional obligations, capacity, or preference (human AND non-human agencies). Finally, I test these parameters empirically. As an entry point to the global structure governing AE, I use the only standard-setting instrument to date that has a (potential) worldwide reach in this field. Although still in progress, the analysis exemplifies how certain ideas, norms, and values about AE found a formal consensus, at a given point in time, thus materialized in the NR. However, this technology has had limited if no impact in the governance of AE due to a lack of policy will, primarily by national governments and other public bodies. Nonetheless its very existence supports the advocacy work by the civil society and the academia. The recent decision by UNESCO to revise the monitoring procedure of this legal instrument has provoked the mobilization of political agency within and across UNESCO, UIL and MSs. In this process the NR from a simple carrier of meanings became a contributor to transform such meanings. The few instances of this mobilization examined highlight the policy will of the UIL together with that of the civil society and the academia from Latina America and more reach regions of the world. While governments and other public bodies, here relatively silent, result the main subjects addressed by this governing technology in the (re)making. To conclude, while no single study can investigate in depth all the parameters that define a global polity structure, nor make use of all suitable methods available for this purpose, I argue that multiple investigations of their occurrences could help to further advance a global polity perspective to the study of AE.