Archive for July, 2010

Social Capital and Public Value Research

This post looks provides four more reviews concerning Public Value Research; three on substantive papers and one on the conclusion.  These complete the outline of the contents of “Not just the economy: the public value of adult learning” (NJE) and I will then look at the key themes that emerge from the book and the evolved stance taken in the IFLL. With two papers in NJE using the concept “social capital” in an approving manner, including the paper by Tom Schuller, the timeliness of Ben Fine’s  “Theories of Social Capital: or researchers behaving badly” is clearly apparent and this will form the content of the next post.  The new context created by the results of the general election leaves all involved in adult education with a dilemma about the nature of our definitions, and how understanding public value might be of use. The IFLL view of public value as econometric analysis was based on an assumption of public value as the “offsetting of costs of adult education against the negative consequences of doing nothing” in, for example, offender learning. This type of proposition assumed that there would be a Government in office committed to balancing short term costs against longer term gains, through current public expenditure in adult education, for instance. In the current context however the IFLL definitions of public value, and some of those from NJE, are unable to sustain themselves as positive alternatives to the prevailing rationale for drastically reducing public expenditure, where that expenditure is seen as wasteful in an “entrepreneurial” economy. Does examining the issues concerning Social Capital, then, offer us a more useful view of public value? Let’s look at this in more detail. (more…)


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Economy, Community & Public Value

Last week I discussed the beginnings of the idea of a Formative Public Value and critically reviewed the issues concerning the social productivity of education as discussed by Feinstein and Sabates.  I couldn’t see substantive arguments for learning as empowerment either at an individual or community level nor any sense of engagement and the notion of community in their work. This week I will address a broader set of issues concerning Public Value moving away from the simple focus on skills for the economy.

Ursula Howard – Adult literacy learning, participative democracy and the public collective good – new life for old causes?

This is the first paper in NJE to mention and use the term “communities” and to explicitly discuss literacy and learning as social practices and move attention away from the focus on skills for the economy and underachievement towards the development of a “democratic, community-based learning culture and turning the current logic on its head.” (p66) (more…)

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