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

Goodey, Carol Elizabeth (2019) A Rancièrian consideration of the formal and informal learning and knowledge of grassroots community activists. Ed.D thesis, University of Glasgow.

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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 learning. 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 Rancière, we can conceive instead of a dividing line. On one side of the line is that which can be counted as knowledge and those who are considered to know and think. On the other, there is nonsense and those who do not know or think – those who are excluded and whose knowledge is discounted. While policy reform after policy reform has not succeeded in reducing the gap, work which seeks to breach the dividing line might have more success in working towards a more equal world. The examples from the participants in this study indicate how this might be achieved through claiming the right to speak and be heard.

Item Type: Thesis (Ed.D)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Jacques Rancière, community activism, informal learning, grounded theory, education.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
L Education > L Education (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Gormally, Dr. Sinéad
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Carol Goodey
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-79051
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2020 15:22
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2022 15:04
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.79051
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/79051

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