In this article I examine policy documents produced by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the European Union (EU) in the field of adult education and learning. In doing so, I critically examine how globalization processes are constructed as policy problems when these transnational political agents propose adult education as a response. My main argument is that while UNESCO presents the provision of adult education as a means for governments to globally overcome disadvantages experienced by their own citizenry, the EU institutionalizes learning experiences as a means for governments to sustain regional economic growth and political expansion. After reviewing the literature on globalization to elucidate the theories that inform current understanding of contemporary economic, political, cultural and ecological changes as political problems, I present the conceptual and methodological framework of my analysis. I proceed to examine the active role played by UNESCO and the EU in promoting adult education as a policy object at transnational level, and unpack the specific problem „representations. that are substantiated by these organizations. I argue that the UNESCO and EU processes assign specific values and meanings to globalization, and that these reflect a limited understanding of the complexity embedded in contemporary globalization processes. Finally, I tease out two of the effects produced by these problem representations.
International Review of Education, 2013, Vol 58, Issue 6, p. 777-797
Adult education; Transnational policy; Globalization; Unesco; European Union