Lifelong learning has for decades been considered a ‘holy grail’ that can help resolve societal problems and boost the economy. The current hegemonic discourse surrounding lifelong learning has included economic objectives since at least the 1980s; however, this has not always been the case.
At least three different conceptual generations have been distinguished throughout the history of the politics of lifelong learning: humanistic, economic and ‘soft’ economic. In this article, we examine the politics of lifelong learning in the humanistic generation.
Our research comprises eight policy texts from UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the OECD. We apply Foucauldian approach with the aim of understanding the subjectivity types of lifelong learners that have been constructed within the policy texts.
We apply Carol Bacchi’s ‘What is the problem represented to be?’ (WPR) method together with Foucauldian elements of ethical relations as a new modified tool for analysing educational policy texts.
The study enhances our understanding of current lifelong learning discourses by analysing their ‘humanistic roots’ and subjectivities in the humanistic era. Moreover, it challenges the extent to which the politics of lifelong learning was considered humanistic at that time.
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