WiSe 18/19: Lifelong Learning and Social Inequality
Lifelong Learning, i.e. continuing education and learning during adulthood, is often cited as a panacea solution to pressing societal challenges such as technological change and ageing workforces. ... read more
Lifelong Learning, i.e. continuing education and learning during adulthood, is often cited as a panacea solution to pressing societal challenges such as technological change and ageing workforces. Many policymakers see it as a means to achieve and maintain “inclusive growth” despite these trends and thus to prevent the widening of social inequality. Yet, it remains unclear whether the concept can live up to the expectations. Against this backdrop, this seminar aims to engage with Lifelong Learning and its connections to social inequality in Europe and beyond. In a first step, we want to examine the empirical reality of the concept. This includes an introduction to the diverse forms of adult education and learning and their relationship to initial education over the life course. We then take a theoretical and empirical look at the participation in lifelong learning. This includes analyzing how and why participation differs between individuals, firms, and countries. We will also inquire about the role of initial education, technologies, job characteristics, firm policies, and educational policies (among other things) play for participation. This is directly connected to the question of why access to adult learning is unequally distributed. Finally, we look at the outcomes of lifelong learning, such as skills, wages and social mobility: Does lifelong learning lead to the skills needed because of technological change? Can lifelong learning reduce social inequality? How can (the lack of) returns to adult education be explained?
The seminar provides theoretical and practical knowledge to evaluate the importance of lifelong learning for social inequality, that is, knowledge about the forms of adult learning, their prevalence and their outcomes as well as theoretical explanations of these phenomena from sociology and economics. Course discussion will also include issues on how to match research questions with theoretical foundations, modes of operationalization and empirical analysis.