The fractured arms of government and the premature end of lifelong learning

Davies, Peter and Hughes, Jonathan (2009). The fractured arms of government and the premature end of lifelong learning. Journal of Education Policy, 24(5) pp. 595–610.



The doctrine of ‘government failure’ based on the ‘public choice critique’ has been highly influential in reshaping the nature of government intervention in education. We argue that understanding of the sources of government failure should be reworked to take account of new forms of government intervention that have been pursued, for example, in New Labour policy. A further reason is that the Public Choice account of government failure treats the identification of shortcomings in state policy as an argument in favour of increasing market forces. The potential role of professional and other communities is ignored. We present a new framework for understanding government failure which we term ‘policy fracture’ and use this framework to analyse lifelong learning policy in relation to older learners. In so doing we provide evidence of policy impacts on a group of participants in education who have received little attention in the research

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