Taking Biesta’s interpretation (2006) of the shift in vocabulary from education to learning as a point of departure, this article will draw on documents produced by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the European Union (EU) to reflect on the ideological and purposive orientations embedded in the shift from adult education to lifelong learning that political globalization processes have favoured. The main argument is that while this shift in policy discourse (which has redefined the relation between education, work and socio-economic development) has been promoted by transnational and inter-state entities with their own interest in education, the shift cannot be seen simply as the result of top-down power relations. That states are members of these entities suggests some degree of global-local interconnectedness. In the meantime, with the failure of labour market and employment policies within the European Union since the 1990s, making sure that citizens acquire marketable skills has become a more important political goal than creating and securing job opportunities. While both trends result from political globalization processes, more research is needed to deepen our understandings of the interplay between transnational and nation-state levels; thus in the concluding section I suggest a research agenda to move in this direction.
European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 2012, Vol 3, Issue 2, p. 103-117
Lifelong learning; Political globalization; Unesco; European Union; Adult Education