Adult and community education in the wear valley district of county Durham
Throughout the 1980's traditional liberal adult education * in Britain has been in crisis. Changes in the ways it is funded and organised, coupled with the breakdown of the liberal progressive ideologies which have informed its theory and practice since the turn of the century, cast doubt upon the extent to which adult education still exists as an identifiable part of the British educational system and idea. The public image of adult education is ambiguous and informed by very little public debate about the role or purpose of adult education in modern societies. its practitioner image is still, predominantly, one of public service. in this thesis i describe what happened when I set out to examine the extent to which there was still a viable adult education service (particularly for unemployed people) in a small area of the north east of England characterised by long term social and economic decline. There is very little sociology of adult education. There is no theoretical knowledge base upon which to ground this study and no methodological framework within which to situate it. The research has been, primarily, a search for methods of research which would allow that adult education is both a social construction and a cultural phenomenon. I have drawn heavily upon the methods of both cultural studies and cultural anthropology while eschewing their more descriptive moments, believing, in the end, that sociology has a definite de-mystifying purpose: that it is, or should be, 'the critic of the absurd and not its high priest'.