EU-Initiative für lebenslanges Lernen : eine Analyse von Zielen und Akteurskonstellationen anhand des Europäischen Jahres für lebensbegleitendes Lernen 1996

The European Year of Lifelong Learning (1996) was the first European Union initiative for lifelong learning and the first European Year with an educational theme. Since then, the concept of lifelong learning has affected the political agenda and has been developed and specified in its various aspects. To answer the research question of how – with the influence of which advocacy coalitions – the European Year of Lifelong Learning was formed, goals and actors who shaped the decision to carry out the European Year of Lifelong Learning are examined in this PhD paper. The Advocacy Coalitions Framework is the methodological foundation for this analysis. It is originated in the political studies field as an approach which values the importance of ideas in political decision-making. Advocacy Coalitions are identified with reference to relevant similarities of Belief Systems in the process of deciding about the European Year of Lifelong Learning. European documents of the decision-making process and complementary expert interviews are analysed by using grounded theory and qualitative content analysis. Qualitative content analysis helps to structure the steps of preparing and analysing, while theoretical coding (grounded theory) leads to coding guidelines and types. Many of the identified ideas and goals are still relevant when discussing lifelong learning and have developed since. Results show that the political discourse on the European Year of Lifelong Learning does not explicitly relate to educational theory. The decision-making rather builds on economic and social policy. Those two approaches are represented by two Advocacy Coalitions: Economic arguments are provided by the dominant coalition around the European Commission. The other coalition around the European Parliament is more loosely linked by social policy argumentation. Both coalitions consider employment as the essence of their belief systems. In addition to the relevant collective actors, the importance of strongly engaged individual actors to promote the issue of lifelong learning becomes evident. While several studies address the history of ideas around lifelong learning comparing different international actors and mention the European Year of Lifelong Learning as one milestone, this study contributes to research with the focus on belief systems and coalitions regarding this specific first initiative of one relevant actor, the European Union. Experts, scholars and stakeholders of adult education and lifelong learning can make use of the findings by relating to the economic as well as the social policy argumentation with a deeper understanding of its origins in the European Union discourse and by contemplating and addressing the lack of recourse to educational theory.


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