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Understanding time in learning transitions through the lifecourse

Colley, Helen (2007) Understanding time in learning transitions through the lifecourse. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 17 (4). pp. 427-443. ISSN 0962-0214

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Abstract

Policy-makers in the UK and Europe have become concerned with the successful management of transitions in learning as a means of increasing the competitiveness of their economies. Transitions relating to informal as well as formal learning have also been an important focus for the sociology of education. In this paper, I review alternative ways in which transitions are conceptualised as a process of change over time; but argue that the dimension of change has been overemphasised, while the dimension of time has been neglected. Much of the literature on transitions takes for granted a 'common sense' view of time as a 'natural flow' and assumes that learning can enable us to forge our own futures agentically from lessons of the past and goals in the present. Feminist research, however, challenges such a theory as androcentric, and reveals the many ways in which women's time is used and experienced differently. Drawing on critical sociological thinking about time, these ideas are illustrated through a re-interpretation of data from Mojab's (2006) study of Kurdish women refugees in Sweden. This explores the ways in which time is engendered and enacted in social practices marked by gender, race and class, and the impact of these times upon the women's learning. The potential of such an analysis points to the need for further study of these themes.

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