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Social capital and lifelong learning

Social capital and lifelong learning

John Field
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  • Book Info
    Social capital and lifelong learning
    Book Description:

    Social capital and lifelong learning are central to current policy concerns both in the UK and internationally. This book confirms the significance of social capital as an analytical tool, while challenging the basis on which current policy is being developed. It: · offers a wealth of evidence on a topic that has become central to contemporary government; · provides a detailed empirical investigation of the relationship between social capital, knowledge creation and lifelong learning; · relates the findings to wider policy debates; · questions the dominant theoretical models of social capital; and · confronts the assumption of many policy makers that the obvious solution to social problems is to 'invest in social capital'.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-126-5
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. List of tables and figures
    (pp. iv-v)
  2. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    During the 1990s, a widespread debate opened over the idea and goal of a ‘learning society’. This debate was bound up with ideas for modernising and reforming education and training systems, so that they not only ensured that young people were able to enter adult life with a robust platform of skills and knowledge, but also that adults themselves were able to continue their learning throughout their lifespan. At its narrowest, this simply involved the adjustment of existing systems and institutions so that they could better promote achievement and participation, particularly among the new cadres of highly skilled knowledge workers....

  3. ONE Social connections and lifelong learning
    (pp. 9-34)

    Much of our life is passed in the company of others. As well as our loved ones, we routinely encounter a cast of people whom we know, including workmates, friends, neighbours, business associates, shop assistants, bartenders, club members and the postman or woman. As we go through life, so we acquire new relationships and lose old ones; and the meanings of relationships can often change over time. This book examines the ways in which our everyday relationships, and the patterns that they assume, affect our capacity to learn across the lifespan.

    Some people, of course, have a wider range of...

  4. TWO Networks, schooling and learning in adult life: interview evidence
    (pp. 35-80)

    Despite a long tradition of debate over adult education and citizenship, research into the influence of social capital on lifelong learning is still a relative newcomer. This is not simply a matter of changing terminology, though the emerging influence of the concepts of lifelong learning and social capital since the 1990s has certainly played an important role in breathing new life into a well-established line of inquiry. It is also true that the mainstream debate over adult education and active citizenship has been highly normative. For many of the participants, the collection and analysis of empirical evidence took second place...

  5. THREE Social connections and adult learning: survey evidence
    (pp. 81-100)

    The interview evidence suggests that the link between social engagement and lifelong learning is a complex one. The idea that social capital and human capital always pull together, which can be found in both Putnam’s and Coleman’s work, is simply not tenable in the light of the qualitative evidence presented in the previous chapter. People sometimes treat networks as an alternative to participation in learning, and sometimes they undertake informal learning by mobilising their social capital resources. In Northern Ireland, with its strong networks of close ties, it seems that participation in formal adult learning can sometimes be hindered by...

  6. FOUR Rethinking the relationship
    (pp. 101-132)

    While much previous research has concentrated on schools, and has focused on parents rather than learners, this book studies the way that social capital and learning interact among adults. I have used a differentiated and relatively broad definition of social capital, encompassing engagement in voluntary associations, sports and leisure groups, and community bodies, as well as relationships arising from kinship and neighbourhood. This approach suggests that the relationship between people’s networks and the learning they undertake is extremely complex, and is often very much bound up with particular contexts and even with specific life events.

    Moreover, social capital and adult...

  7. FIVE What next?
    (pp. 133-156)

    Writing in a forum closely associated with New Labour, Simon Szreter proposed that social capital could “offer critical assistance to the putative Third Way by providing it with its own distinctive political economy” (Szreter,1999, p30). Szreter acknowledged that social capital was a “double-edged sword”, with networks capable of excluding and dominating as well as including and emancipating. Nevertheless, the thrust of his article argued that the benefits of multiple ties – particularly weak ties – were accentuated in a modern competitive world market. The task for government was therefore to invest in measures that would produce more social capital and civic participation,...