GLL – on Youngman’s Adult Education and Development Theory

COURSE: Global/Local Learning– GLL

FORUM: Samarbeta

TOPICS: local global learning, development, Third Way, Education, Marxism, Civil Society,

Step 2 – Part2: on Populism and Adult Education, Frank Youngman

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Youngman, F. (2000). Adult Education and Development Theory in The Political Economy of Adult Education & Development, (Chapter 4). London: Zed Press.


In general, I believe that Youngman’s chapter suggests a Marxist perspective, reflected in his language and the initial references to Marxist scholars and thinkers.

His writing advances a Marxist political economy, in that the author recognizes that the ruling capitalist forces negatively impact on development efforts the South.

I feel that Youngman sees adult education a system framed within existing societal structures rather than as a process of growth and development. In other words, Youngman seems to miss the important distinction between adult education (structure) and adult learning (potential societal and personal growth). For Youngman, the state holds the key to education. He glosses over the transformational approaches inherent in so called “populist education,” “people-centered development,” and “third way” thinking, and forcefully returns to Marxist doctrines of development.

Youngman views Civil Society as a promoter of adult education, though he presents it in juxtaposition to the state and sees it as subordinate to the state.

Although he recognizes the interrelations between many factors and issues, he fails to suggest a framework within which transformation can occur. His Marxist approach, as summarized at the end of Chapter 4, does not include any reference to cultural diversity; instead it reiterates issues and taxonomies that have historically belonged to past discourses of Marxist thought.

In this chapter, I see very little that could be called “new,” let alone “revolutionary.” Youngman seems to have a hard time in breaking free from the Marxist/Capitalist dichotomy.



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