Milana, M., & Rapanà, F. (2019). The appropriation of cultural, economic and normative frames of reference for adult education: An Italian perspective. In L. Tett and M. Hamilton (Eds.), Resisting neoliberalism in education: local, national and transnational perspectives (pp. 167-180). Cambridge: Polity Press.

This contribution sheds light on the complex dynamic that produces cultural, economic and normative frames of reference for popular adult education. A cultural frame is what gives meaning, and assigns values to, popular adult education as a context, place-, and time-specific experience. A normative frame is what legitimises its provision, whereas an economic frame is what makes it sustainable. The authors apply a frame analysis to an Italian Third Age University, as an illustrative case, to examine its establishment and continuous operation over four decades, despite today’s dominant neoliberal discourse based on a competitive market approach. Drawing on this analysis, the authors pinpoint some actions that may open interstices for resistance to such a dominant discourse by popular adult education providers, but also policy makers, professionals, and volunteers who support or are involved in popular adult education.

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