University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

'Getting By' or 'Getting Ahead'? Gendered Educational and Career Decision-Making in Networks of Intimacy

Fuller, A., Foskett, Rosalind, Johnston, B. and Paton, K. (2011) 'Getting By' or 'Getting Ahead'? Gendered Educational and Career Decision-Making in Networks of Intimacy. In: Gendered Choices and Transitions in Lifelong Learning: Part-time Pathways, Full-time Lives. Lifelong Learning Book Series (15). Springer, Heidelberg, DE, pp. 189-208. ISBN 978-94-007-0646-0

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The book which contained this chapter was important in that it broke new ground in addressing the issues of gendered learning in different contexts across the adult lifespan. It highlighted the centrality of gendered choices underpinning the policy frameworks associated with adult learning, lifelong learning and the skills agenda. The book is part of an important series “The Lifelong Learning Book Series published by Springer. It is an examination of the agenda of lifelong learning from a feminist point of view. The chapter is in section three of the book which considers “Identity, Intimacy and In/Formal Pathways.

The underpinning research for the chapter was an output from a large scale research project funded by the ESRC Teaching and Learning Research Project. The project involved both Quantitative analysis of large scale datasets and qualitative analysis of case studies drawing on semi-structured interviews with mature individuals and their networks of intimacy. The project looked at non-participants in HE i.e. people who are qualified to enter HE but have not done so.

In this chapter, we suggest that evidence collected from the 16 social networks investigated in the project involving interviews with about 120 people, can challenge the notion of decision-making as an individual process. Instead we suggest that the more useful unit of decision-making is the ‘Network of Intimacy’ i.e. the individual in the context of their significant family and friends. By taking this wider view of decision-making we are better able to understand the choices that people make about career and education pathways. This methodology takes into account the nature of peoples linked and conjoined lives as expressed through interpersonal ties and revealed in gendered roles, network cultures, discourses and the structural positions of members of the networks.

Project details, final report etc:

Main findings:
• No single agency has the widening of participation in HE across the life course as its core mission.
• The ‘potentially recruitable’ in our research are living comfortable, stable lives and usually see little need to participate in HE.
• The benefits of HE need to be made more apparent to this group. Identification with entrants to HE who are ‘people like me’ in terms of education, social and employment background influences decision-making across and within generations
• HE experiences within social networks critically shape the perceptions of ‘potentially recruitable’ adults across and within generations

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information:

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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: Widening participation, Higher Education, networks of intimacy
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
Copyright Info: Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Depositing User: Rosalind Foskett
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2012 08:46
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 16:57

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