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Continuning Education in Late Modern or Global Society(2)

Continuning Education in Late Modern or Global Society(2)

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Published by: Elena Dimitra Pantopoulou on Jun 25, 2012
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Comparative Education
Volume 32 No. 2 1996 pp. 233±244
Continuing Education in aLate-modern or Global Society:towards a theoretical framework for comparative analysis
PETER JARVIS
ABSTRACT 
Continuing education, those forms of education that occur after initial education, isexposed to the global market forces in a twofold manner which is foreign to traditional education: ®rstly, it has to relate to the changing structures and demands of the workforce in the global markeand, secondly, it is a marketable commodity in itself. This means that there are no simple systems of continuing education that can be compared between nations or even between occupational categories.This paper, therefore, endeavours to provide a taxonomy which might underlie comparative theorising about continuing education.
Introduction
While there is a debate in Western Europe and the USA about post-modern society, other societies in the world, such as Malaysia, Indonesia, etc., are in the throes of modernising andso any discussion about continuing education and post-modernity has to recognise thatcontinuing education is as much a feature of modernising societies as it is of those which maybe entering a phase of post-modernity or, perhaps more accurately, late modernity. Theconcept of late modernity, rather than post-modernity, will be employed throughout thispaper in order to relate the modernising process to the central features of the contemporaryworldÐglobal markets, transnational companies and the rapid changes in information tech-nology and international travelÐall of which have aided the realignment of space and time.The thesis of this paper is that continuing education is a product of the prime forces of globalisationÐthe economic and technological forces generated in advanced capitalist coun-tries by transnational companies in the further development of a global market. Many of theforms of continuing education are direct responses to the demands thus generated althoughsome aspects are constrained by the fact that cultural knowledge changes less rapidly thanscienti®c and technological knowledge. In order to understand continuing education from acomparative perspective, therefore, it has to be contextualised. The social forces which havegenerated its development from both adult education, on the one hand and initial education,on the other, have to be understood. It is necessary, in the ®rst instance, to explore theunderlying ideas of globalisation and post-modernism, which will be followed by an examin-ation of the changes in the nature of work and knowledge that have been created incontemporary society. Continuing education will then be discussed and it will be suggested
Correspondence to: Peter Jarvis, Department of Educational Studies, University of Surrey, Guildford, SurreyGU2 5XH, UK.0305±0068/96/020233-12 $6.00
Ó
1996 Carfax Publishing Ltd
 
234
P. Jarvis
that while some aspects of its substance might be similar throughout the world, the methodof its presentation is still constrained by cultural variables. Finally, a theoretical framework for comparison will be presented.
Globalisation and Late Modernity
It is generally accepted that late or post-modernity is a feature of Western European culturein which the consequences of the Enlightenment are questioned. The fact that it is by andlarge a Western phenomenon is important to this debate since it could be argued that itsemergence in the West is a product of the classical market forces which were enabled tooperate from the time when the free movement of capital between countries was allowed,since this generated conditions closer to a universal free market. Before that time, it could beclaimed that the world was developing along regional lines and the following paragraphsoutline a simple theory of this change.Basically, the theory of regional development means that a region’s employment struc-ture will be enhanced through the investment of capital in the area and, as a result of themultiplier effect, this will generate even more wealth throughout the region. Consequently,regions where capital exists get richer in contrast to those regions where there is less capitalto invest. For as long, therefore, as there is not a free ¯ow of capital between countries, thosecountries with wealth have more capital to invest and generate more employment opportuni-ties, so that the West got richer at the expense of the remainder of the world. This also meantthat these countries were able to tax the large and successful companies and so generatesuf®cient wealth to create and sustain a welfare state, which also enabled the further growthof adult education on a leisure-time basis. The fact that each state had boundaries meant thatthere was only a limited workforce for companies to employ and nowhere else for companiesto invest their wealth, which enabled the trades unions to gain considerable power on behalf of the working classes.However, as the barriers between countries were lowered in respect of the transfer of capital, the conditions of the classical market began to emerge on a worldwide scale. Largecompanies seeking pro®t were no longer constrained by the restrictive practices of the tradesunions or the high taxation of the welfare state. They were able to seek more pro®table placesin which to invest their capital, which they did. Some less-developed countries with cheaper and more malleable labour forces became the focus of capital investment, although therewere still many countries that were a bad risk or in which capitalist companies were unableto invest capital, for example the Eastern bloc and China. Classical economists would arguethat until such time as there is an equilibrium in locations, companies will invest in the mostpro®table locations and so there will be a gradual enrichment of poorer countries at theexpense of the more wealthy ones. The poorer countries have, consequently, embarked onthe process of modernisation while the more wealthy and less competitive ones faced a periodwhen they could no longer take their wealth or income for granted and appeared to stagnate;in other words, they entered a new phase of modernityÐlate modernity. Some First Worldcountries, such as Germany, with reformed labour relations and new industrial investment,have still been able to compete relatively successfully in the market while other countries withpractices embedded in the past and outmoded production techniques have faced a moredif®cult period. As a result, there has been a gradual change. The taken-for-granted valuesin the modern society of West Europe, values that had emerged in part as a result of theEnlightenment, were now open to question, including the restructuring of the welfare state.Naturally, the above paragraphs are an oversimpli®cation of the globalisation processwhich had been going on long before the free movement of capital through colonial
 
Continuing Education in a Late-modern or Global Society
235imperialism. Since some transnational companies divide their production processes across avariety of countries, introducing an international division of labour, they have also lessenedthe signi®cance of national economies and the state and have emphasised the globalisationprocess even more.Among the theorists who have endeavoured to explain globalisation in economic termsis Wallerstein (1990), whose theory contains six elements: capitalism is worldwide; it hasalways sought wider markets which has created the contradiction between modernisation andWesternisation; the problem of getting workers to work harder for lower pay is an inherentlydif®cult one; modernisation as a central universalising theme gives priority to newness andchange; the capitalist world economy does not merely reward unequally, it is the locus of increasing polarity over historical time; and the strongest and wealthiest states have risen anddeclined. Most of his points are apparent in the above argument, although they are not allaccepted here uncritically; for instance, his ®nal point implies that history always repeatsitself, which is not logically correct. It is also signi®cant that Robertson (1992, p. 13)criticised him for being too one-sided and concentrating too much on the forces of economicsand so it is intended to try to avoid this error in the following argument by recognising thatinformation technology and the traditions of culture have also played signi®cant parts in thesechanges and also in the way that continuing education has developed. Nevertheless, it isimportant to recognise that it is hardly possible to understand the development of continuingeducation in the contemporary world without reference to the globalisation process.During the period in which the West was modernising and achieving dominance (theWest and the rest), those cultural values which it had adopted during the Enlightenment wereassumed to be the apex of civilisation and they were not only taken for granted but were oftenexported around the world both by the mechanisms of colonialism and, more latterly,through educationÐeven university extension (Steele, 1994,
inter alia
). Hamilton (1992, pp.21±22) summarised these cultural values as follows: reason and rationality, empiricism,science, universalism, progress, individualism, toleration, freedom, uniformity of humannature and secularism. However, as other parts of the world modernised and the dominanceof the West appeared more fragileÐeven though many of the transnational companies are stillcontrolled from the WestÐsome of these values were called into question. Late or post-modernity had apparently arrived in the West! A number of scholars then began to writeabout this new era (Lyotard, 1984; Harvey, 1989; Jameson, 1991; Bauman, 1992,
inter alia
).Whether it actually was a new era has certainly been a major feature in the debateÐwithmany scholars, notably Habermas (1987), denying that modernity is over. It is because of thisdebate, that the term `late modernity’ rather than post-modernity is adopted here, for clearlythe values of late capitalism still dominate Western society with some having become moreprevalent and others having taken new form, even though some of them have been ques-tioned by post-modern scholars.
Work in Global Society
Education and certainly continuing education, has nearly always been related to occupation,the structure of which has been greatly affected by these changes in the global economy,including the fact that since technological knowledge is changing at such a rapid rate it is lesslikely that people will remain in the same job all their lives without updating. Furthermore,many will have to change their occupation and learn new skills. Reich (1991, pp. 171±184)suggested that there will be three main types of work in the future: routine productionservices, in-person services and symbolic analysts. In addition, he noted that there will remaina few who work in the primary industries, such as farming and mining and others who are

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