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Title: The theory of Jurgen Habermas : its application to the theorisation of adult education
Author: Connelly, Brian
ISNI:       0000 0001 3561 2603
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 1996
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This thesis argues that adult education in Britain, and other parts of the Western world, is undergoing a process of instrumentalisation which is detrimental to its identity and ethos. Opposition to this instrumentalisation requires the development of a theory of adult education which will protect its ethos and identity, and challenge the neo-liberal ideas of the policy-makers who are initiating this process. This theory must not only explain the role of adult education, by locating it in its historical, educational and social context, but also demonstrate its educational and social importance or intrinsic worth. This requires that the theory also satisfies the criteria of theoretical adequacy: the theory must demonstrate explanatory power and reach. An examination of the main traditions of adult education theory in Britain shows that these traditions do not meet these conditions. This thesis argues that Habermas' theory of communicative action can provide the basis for the required theory of adult education. This is demonstrated through a dialogical, methodological approach to the research which reflects Habermas' method in constructing his theory. This approach takes three forms. The detailed, critical study of the Habermasian oeuvre identifies those themes important and relevant to a theory of adult education, and highlights their major strengths and weaknesses. A representative overview of the main critiques of these thematic areas is integrated into this critical study to enable further assessment of the validity of Habermas' theory. This assessment affirms the theoretical adequacy of Habermas' communicative project, but also identifies problematic areas which need further investigation or development if that adequacy is to be strengthened. The thesis then examines the extent to which adult education theorists recognise the possibilities of an Habermasian-informed adult education theory. This examination demonstrates that the overall level of understanding and familiarity with the Habermasian oeuvre, and its important, relevant themes, is not sufficient to satisfy the theoretical conditions identified above. The thesis concludes by drawing from Habermas' work, and from the more relevant interpretations of adult educators and educators, to present a Habermasian-informed adult educational theory which does satisfy these conditions, and thus could provide an effective challenge to the neo-liberal instrumentalisation of adult education currently taking place.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Education & training