A Rancièrian consideration of the formal and informal learning and knowledge of grassroots community activists

Carol Elizabeth Goodey
As inequality grows, with the gap between rich and poor widening, education is regularly proposed as a way to tackle this disparity and to offer people a way out of poverty. The more educated people are, the wealthier and happier they are expected to be. Education policies and practice aim to improve people and their lives in order to improve society, business and the economy. Societal problems tend to be seen as learning problems which individuals are expected to solve through their own
more » ... g. If individuals do not take action to gain qualifications, the disadvantages they face are considered justifiable. With the emphasis on formal education and qualifications, what we learn informally is not recognised and valued and nor, it seems, are the people who have learned most of what they know informally. This research explored the value of informal learning, alongside formal learning, in a context in which people work towards a particular goal. Community activism was identified as a suitable context. Using a Constructivist Grounded Theory approach, nine community activists from around Scotland were interviewed. This methodology, along with the work of Michel Foucault and Jacques Rancière, facilitated an investigation of the topic by encouraging an openness to what participants said in the interviews and also how they said it. Three research questions guided the generation and analysis of the data. These considered how people positioned themselves in relation to learning and knowledge, what they learned and the role of both formal and informal learning in bringing about change in communities. While it is not unusual to find Foucault employed in such research, it is less common for Rancière to provide an analytical lens. Doing so here has proved very productive in highlighting the need to perceive people, education and equality differently. If we are to solve the problem of inequality through education, we need to be able to see that problem differently. The problem is often presented as a gap in attainment. Using R [...]
doi:10.5525/gla.thesis.79051 fatcat:b5dfvg3rdnew5ad6qpildv7egy