The Premature End Of Lifelong Learning? The Impact Of Policy Discourse On Older Learners

Hughes, Jonathan Emrys (2008). The Premature End Of Lifelong Learning? The Impact Of Policy Discourse On Older Learners. PhD thesis Staffordshire University.



The thesis is an examination of the interaction between policy discourses. It focuses on lifelong learning in relation to older (retired) learners and in the context of their acquisition of ICT skills. Policy is explored using a framework of espoused, enacted and experienced policy. This framework reveals the importance of considering the implications of policy operationalisation on those who are charged with its enactment. Its use also highlights the value of considering the impact on the lives of those affected by policy. The thesis takes a critical stance with regard to Foucault’s methodology of archaeological discourse analysis and to discourse analysis in general. A range of methods is developed to counter the problems associated with discourse analysis. These include word frequencies and word associations which are particularly appropriate for an investigation of the part played by small details in Foucault’s concept of governmentality. In addition, narrative analysis is employed to explore the implications of discourses for social practices.

Espoused policy is explored by analysing selected policy texts. These are The Learning Age, Learning to Succeed and the Learning and Skills Act (2000). A fourth document, Winning the Generation Game is analysed in order to explore government policy in relation to the older people who are the focus of this thesis. Enacted policy is explored in the context of local provision and uses LSC documents in addition to interviews with managers of colleges of further education and organisers of provision for older learners. Finally, experienced policy is analysed by generating data from research workshops with older learners. The analysis of each level of policy is the basis for suggestions about the discourses that are important at that level. A consideration of the interplay of these discourses enables the thesis to add to the literature on the nature of policy fracture. Thus the thesis’ examination of the learning of older people who have retired from the job market uses this relatively neglected context to offer a broader picture of policy fracture that may be useful in the study of other contexts.

Viewing alternatives

Item Actions