At the same time as knowledge and competence have become societal issues individual subjects are also becoming visible and significant in their plurality. Recent new agendas of lifelong learning has moved the policy discourse from (institutional) education to the individual and lifelong learning in all aspects of life. Simultaneously we can see in the academic and professional discourse a strong interest in and new concepts of the individual life. But it is the same questions the policy makers as well as researchers try to respond, and should they respond in the same way? It may be a new sensibility in policy making when focussing on the individual. But a critical research into adult learning must avoid to understand learning without individualizing the indvidual learner. This article develops a conception of life history research on the basis of a notion of social ecxperience and ambivalence, which sees the learning of the subject as dynamics of cultural and social meaning making. Referring to a tradition of empirical cultural analysis it develops a theoretical framework to understand the relation between social practice, language and learning. It is a framework based in psychoanalytical and critical social theory, and suggests that the individual learning biography can best be analyzed as a specific version of a societal situation for the individual subject. So the research response to the new visibility of individual learners should be a theoretical informed stury of life histories in their cultural and historical context.
Educacao (porto Alegre), 2011, Vol 34, Issue 2, p. 137-146