Citizenship and belonging as a moral imperative for lifelong learning
Citizenship and belonging was identified as one of the nine progressive themes of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) inquiry into the future of lifelong learning in the United Kingdom. It was used to inform the inquiry's recommendations on the desired form of that future. This paper articulates a critique of the report and recommendations of the inquiry from a citizenship and belonging perspective. Three different contemporary conceptions of citizenship and belonging are identified and here articulated: a formal conception, grounded in the rights and duties of citizenship or the individual values that it demands of citizens; a participatory conception, grounded in what it means to engage as a citizen; and an existential conception, grounded in the substantive nature and experience of being and belonging as a citizen. The conception of citizenship and belonging that emerges from the inquiry report is strongly participatory. While this is consistent with much recent theorisation of citizenship and belonging, it is limited in its lack of focus on belonging and in its formal homogeneity. It is argued that the progressive reform imperative for citizenship and belonging in lifelong learning is a moral imperative that stands against a contemporarily powerful economic imperative for accountability. Although not identified explicitly in the NIACE inquiry report as a driver of its recommendations, it is evident that the economic imperative for accountability has blunted expression of the moral imperative to citizenship and belonging in the inquiry report and recommendations.
International Journal of Lifelong Education