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Lecture 4 – Remaking education at the nexus between governing and experiencing Europe

Terri Seddon  (Australian Catholic University, Australia)
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Professor Terri Seddon, sociologist and passionate adult educator, believes in education as a fundamental human right and enabler of change in everyday life. She touches people in workplaces and communities as well as educational institutions through her teaching and research at Monash University, (now) Australian Catholic University, and collaborative projects with colleagues in Europe and the Asia Pacific. Terri’s commitments to education and educational research are distinguished by a global frame of reference that she refined through teaching the intercontinental Masters in Adult Learning and Global Change, with colleagues from Canada, Sweden and South Africa. Rigorous and enquiring, Terri’s way of working and learning across borders means stepping into what is not known. Her premise is possibility: despite growing privatisation across all levels of schooling and education, Terri looks to collaborate with great educators around the globe who seek a "game changer" to inequality and gender justice in the education space. But not only as an explorer of ideas; Terri has walked the Larapinta Track, west of Alice Springs, trekked Nepal and sings with a women’s choir to engage with cultures that broaden her horizons and extend her experience.

This lecture opens up a line of questions about the relation between governing, experiencing and our knowledge building work as researchers. These notes address this topic but do not follow the lecture exactly. Instead, I have structured this commentary by reflecting on the making of a ‘European education space’ through different knowledge building strategies. Noting how those strategies reveal europeanization as a space of governing, I ask what it might mean to investigate europeanisation from the perspective of experience?

I focus the commentary by explaining what it means to know Europe from Australia and how this experience opens up a line of inquiry. This research was organised through the cross-national ‘Disturbing Work’ book project, which helped me to better understand diverse ways of experiencing Europe, and also showed how experiencing became action as professionals learned and laboured through the space in-between governing and everyday experience.

I outline the resources that enabled me to shift the problematic of governing towards a problematic of experiencing Europe. This intellectual move reveals the significance of social learning, the materialisation of knowings and doings in ways that reference particular utopias and the effects on processes of education reform. This problematic led me to the analysis of boundary politics and how professional work and learning makes futures out of the resources at hand in a particular present.

My argument is that the socio-spatialisation of learning reveals knowings and doings that re-make Europe. This argument is of particular significance for professionals whose knowings carry authority and whose doings border and order education relative to particular space-time boundaries. I suggest that these professional spaces of orientation re-spatialize education in ways that have consequences for probable and preferred futures.

Research Strategies in Education Sociology

I want to start this lecture by outlining some questions that concern the relationship between governing knowledge production and reflexivity. Is it possible that people who govern our countries today are not sufficiently reflexive about the knowledge that they are using to vision the future? Is it possible that they do not question the concepts, the methods and practices that they are using as they progress their versions of education to secure their country’s future?

These are important questions to ask and I think it is important to ask them about the space of governing that unfolds through policy work. These questions are also important to ask as we narrate and construct spaces of governing through our work as researchers. Because when we work as researchers we are doing governing work. We make concepts, we make methods, and we produce knowledge, which affects social practices. In this sense, we govern. So we have an ethical responsibility to think about these knowledge questions and their effects on how we construct and steer education.

In this lecture, my question is, how do we understand the space in between governing and experiencing Europe? This means understanding what happens when people engage with practices of governing from particular worlds of experience. It also means looking at space in-between spaces, which are tensioned by practices of governing and practices of experiencing. These in-between spaces are where social learning unfolds in ways that orient knowings, doings and actions: these spaces are where futures are made.

So far in this summer school, we’ve had three lectures that offer insights into ways of doing research. Positioning the questions I am raising here, in relation to those perspectives shows how each lecturer has opened up a different way understanding europeanization and the emerging ‘European educational space’, and how their research life has informed their sociology of education. First up Stephen Ball talked about his deep engagement with a particular theorist’s work. Stephen explained how he came to Michel Foucault, approached his oeuvre, and how those insights provide a framework that both guides and orients Stephen’s way of working as a researcher. That Foucaldian discourse is itself a governing framework, of course. It creates the space in which you take up the vocabulary, concepts, methods, and practices, which make you a researcher who does foucauldian research.

Sotiria Grek offers us another way of thinking about research by approaching and entering the field of inquiry through issues. For example, the issue of europeanization exists as a fuzzy idea. So how do you start to grasp that idea and pin it down as a concept? Sotiria did a lovely job explaining how she problematized the idea of europeanization. She described her process of mapping out the different literatures that gave her vocabularies for understanding europeanization – not just one vocabulary, or a particular complex Foucauldian vocabulary or intellectual tradition, but a vocabulary that draws across disciplinary traditions and values. That methodological approach enabled her to construct her own concepts, methods, and practices to understand europeanization and to take them into her research.

Paolo Landri gives us a great example of how you can work with a particular socio-material conceptual framework. It is a framework that is not anchored in a particular theorist’s idea, but is anchored in a broader intellectual tradition that, nevertheless, rests on a discernible ontological and epistemological tradition. I understand this tradition as a realist ontology and retroductive epistemology (Sayer, 2000). It developed through 19th century critiques of political economy (eg. Marx, 1976) and 20th century historical sociologies (eg. Mills, 1971) and was elaborated through fields like science and technology studies. This socio-material theorising makes it possible to ask questions about making ‘things’, like policy, and then apply that way of seeing policy making and policy effects within a particular region, such as Italy.

It seems to me that each lecturer has talked about their ways of knowing and doing research and invited you to choose a research strategy as you move forward in your own work. I hope what I can do today is offer you another strategy, which enters the field of education research, of policy research, of europeanizing research, from the perspective of experiencing – where experience is not just from within Europe but can also be from elsewhere around the world.

What I want to do, then, is to consider, how can we understand education and the emerging European education space from the perspective of experiencing Europe. I take up this agenda in order to understand the space in between governing and experiencing, where effects unfold through learning and labouring that are both processes of knowing and doing. I approach this task by sharing the problems I encountered as I worked towards this way of doing research. I suggest that this way of addressing a research problem rests on a reflexive sociology. This methodology is particularly helpful when studying europeanization, where the intertwined insights from sociologies of governing and sociologies of education are both important and intersect in ways that enable and steer concepts methods and practices of education.

The Europeanization of Education

I know Europe through a variety of personal connections, but it is also important to recognise how the world knows and is affected by Europe and europeanisation. Europeanization debates are not just about Europe. Events like Brexit are not just about Europe. Brexit will affect us all wherever we live. And, in these early days following Brexit, there is interesting discussion about why Brexit happened and how the boys that were governing Britain actually stuffed up the referendum to leave Europe fairly spectacularly because they didn’t pay enough attention to Europe or the rest of the world. The gist of this argument is that those political leaders weren’t looking at the relation between experience and governing. They were only looking at governing and, specifically, governing Britain. Brexit is now a problem because governing is never just about those who govern; its also a consequence of those who are governed and how processes governing those interactions, actions and reactions have steering effects through events, such as Brexit.

But knowing europeanisation does not just depend upon being in Europe and living as a European; it is possible to know Europe and europeanisation as an Australian. Let me briefly set the scene so that I can explain to you why somebody that lives and works in Australia should be interested in Europe. It’s a question I get asked both by Europeans and Australians quite a lot. So I was born in England and have family across Britain and in Spain. Travelling to Australia in 1975, I decided to stay and, in 1994 I started going to ECER, the European Conference on Educational Research. I have been to that conference almost annually, not quite annually, but almost annually ever since. I think I’m up to my 16th trip to ECER. If I can just put this into perspective for you, a one-way flight from Melbourne to Europe (eg. Rome) is about 20 hours flying time. In other words, just these 16 flights to Europe is a 32-day investment of my life in research on europeanization.

I explain this background partly because I want to claim mobility as a place in its own right and, like any fixed place, it locates social practices and knowledge building. Mobility is a place as much as London or Napoli, or a long haul 747 flight when I travel to Australia. Each of those fixed and mobile places has its own space, time and invocations for knowledge building. When mobility is such a feature of 21st century working lives, I think it’s important to unpack some of the issues about mobility and the kind of knowledge building that is located by places of mobility (Urry, 2007). That knowledge building is also shaped by the way we are situated in knowledge spaces and can access resources that enable knowing (Landri & Neumann, 2014). For example, since the 1990s, I have been mainly working in the field of adult education. I started out researching post-compulsory school education, but most of my work now is in adult education. This space of adult education is framed by the discourse of lifelong learning that, as you know, is a complex space of politics in-between lifelong learning and lifelong education.

These questions about the meaning of ‘lifelong learning’, ‘lifelong education’ and the space of adult education are all part of my research on europeanization. From 1994 to 1996, I had a three year funded comparative project looking at schools and vocational colleges in Australia. Public vocational colleges there are called Technical and Further Education Institutions or TAFE institutions. From that base, I actually went native. I moved further into the adult education field, doing a series of funded projects on things like partnership work, which hit the adult education world earlier than the school education world. And of course, there was a set of very complex governance arrangement in the adult education field, because industry, communities, education and government were already working together. In that sector the effects of neoliberal reform shifted the balance of power towards industry relative to community and education, and also relative to government.

In these studies I tended to ask the question: What happens to teachers and managers work in neo-liberalizing environments? A lot of the work that I’ve done over the years has been trying to trace those policy effects in order to understand how people – professionals – in these different institutions and organizations remake their work as educators, their identities as educators, and also enable the learners that they are trying to support. Through the 2000s, I shifted the focus of this work by engaging in a series of transnational projects. Some of them were accidental projects. One year I had four trips in Kazakhstan because I was working in an Open Society Institute project looking at national curriculum reform. Other projects were more sensible, designed if you like, and these more systematic projects began to open up the problem of knowing europeanisation through people’s experience of neoliberal market reforms.

A particularly important project in this respect was unofficially called ‘Disturbing Work’. It looked at the disturbing effects of market reforms and public policy reforms on nurses, teachers and social workers in Germany, Finland, Britain, the US and Australia (Terri Seddon, Henriksson, & Niemeyer, 2010). This research was organised through a book project. It was very interesting because the editorial collective included ?Beatrix Niemeyer, a German researcher working in Youth Studies, Lea Henriksson, a Finn with expertise in nurse education and sociologies of professions, and myself from Australia. Working together meant we had to engage very deeply with questions about ways of knowing Europe and europeanization. We had to build that knowledge and create a communication base for that cross-national disciplinary project. Given our differences, that project space became a space of transnational knowledge building by virtue of the way we worked together, forged a culture and agreed to practices that helped us govern our transnational world.

Since 2009, I’ve been trying to write about this project and draw out what had come to life through the ‘Disturbing Work’ book. My current book project has become an exploration of the nature and effects of transnational knowledge building. In further work with ?Beatrix Niemeyer, we have begun to formalise the way we are problematising europeanisation and the emerging European educational space. We both draw on the emerging concepts, methods and practices that have been developed to understand ‘Europe’ as a transnational space, but we are applying that transnational knowledge in studies of education and educational change in national contexts, in Germany and Australia.

This project, which grew through our experiences, has created a range of contradictory discursive and methodological problems. I began to wonder whether I was making myself understood in either Europe or Australia because I was coming at the problem of education reform in ways that seemed to be ‘outside the box’, outside the usual conceptual and methodological frameworks that people were working with in both national spaces and the transnational space of ‘Europe’.

So there was something interesting about the transnational space of knowledge building that differed from the national space of knowledge building. What was going on in each of these spaces? How were they being resourced? And how indeed can you start to work between them in ways that might actually communicate anything? Because I found it extraordinarily difficult to navigate this discursive boundary zone, I started to ask, how do I know anything? How do I know anything in this space? How do I write about this space? The solution to this crisis of confidence came through historical and sociological reflections on what and how I knew education.

Ultimately I realized that I had to revisit questions about the ontology and epistemology of space and place to clarify what I can know and from where. I knew that I was experiencing and researching between spaces of governing and experience but what kind of governing, and by which ‘government’ or governing order? I knew that my disciplinary knowledge about governing was coming from studies of europeanization and that I experienced Europe in a very particular way. I came to ECER pretty much every year. I had a history of connections with Europe. But is this knowing Europe? And what did it mean to know Australia? What did it mean to know Australia when I had a sense of how Australia was governed through experience, but not through disciplinary literature? This disconnect was partly because a lot of disciplinary literatures do not address adult education. There is a major gap within our Australian education literature around the domain of adult education. So how did I know? How could I claim to know in these environments?

Education Sociology Between Governing and Experience

The answer to these questions is ‘reflexive sociology’. But what does that mean or look like in this present, our moment in history, when globalisation, europeanization and national knowledge spaces intertwine in seemingly unpredictable ways, producing events like Brexit, as well as the European education space?

What I find troubling about European policy and research on europeanization and the European education space is that it is not explicit about its space. This might seem odd when the study of europeanization of education has interrogated the ‘re-spatialization’ of education. But reflecting back on the trajectory of that research and how it flowered through the European Educational Research Journal and through ECER, I can see how it has really become the sociology of governing through the space of education as a governing space. Whereas the work that ?Beatrix Niemeyer, other colleagues and I have done has departed from the space of governing to ask questions about what happens through the space of experiencing. It traces the effects of experiencing both on those we research and also for us as researchers.

Pinpointing the problem

The Disturbing Work Project – the cross-national study of human service workers – is one place where these issues about experiencing ‘Europe’ started to come together. The design of that project traced how lifelong learning reforms were reconfiguring the workplaces of nurses, teachers and social workers and also their different occupational domains. We set up this project using a spatial lexicon but focused in much more detail on ‘place’. This analytical strategy revealed the space in-between governing and experience as a ‘place’ of intersection. where lifelong learning discourses and experiences in working life framed particular practices of learning and labouring. Investigating the nature and effects of these places revealed them to be a dilemma-driven boundary zone (Niemeyer, 2014). It was where intersecting cultural habits and governing practices produced social learning and patterns of labouring, which ‘enacted’ an environment.

There is no direct relationship between governing and enactment; that relation is always mediated by experience. Just as my experience of Europe is mediated by the fact that I come from and see the earth and its social worlds from Australia. Recognising these cultural mediations dislocates the kind of habitual assumptions that we often make between the territorial idea of space – space as nation – and the experiencing that we do because we are situated somewhere within territorial space — even when we may not be in our own national territory and, increasingly, find ourselves in transnational spaces. As studies of europeanisation have found the transnational space of ‘Europe’ emerges alongside the development of supra-national practices of governing. This transnational space has its own set of inhabitants, an emergent class of bureaucrats, the ‘policy magistracy’, who now travel the world, and create a policy space of governing which has its own distinctive patterns of transnational knowledge practices (Lawn & Lingard, 2002).

The Disturbing Work project investigated these patterns of social learning and labouring through the narratives of human service professionals. We went back to sociologies of professions and marxism-feminism literatures to make sense of the experience and experiential effects of neoliberal reforms. Richard Sennett’s (Sennett, 1998) arguments about flexibilized capitalism highlighted how people in workplaces experience neo-liberal policy reforms as an ‘illegible regime of power’: a regime of governing that makes no sense because it differs from historical memories of path dependent change within a system, and is also different from the cultural expectations that flow through particular communities and networks ­ because you are Greek, or you are Italian or you are rich or poor, or whatever you might be. Analysing the draft chapters prepared for this book project, we tried to unpack this relation between historicised cultural knowledge and discursive knowledge practices, some of which were coming through the space governing in the form of policy, and some of which were coming through the space of governing via other disciplinary discourses.

In the coda to the Disturbing Work book project, Frigga Haug (2010) wrote about this shifting knowledge space that has emerged with neoliberal reforms. She points out that concepts like ‘education’ and ‘work’, which we think we know, suddenly come to mean different things because their frames of reference change. She surfaces these frames of reference by asking, what is the Utopia now? What provides a frame of reference for thinking about preferred futures? Through the 19th and 20th centuries, the idea of ‘social justice’ anchored the utopia that framed the learning, labour and political action of modernist social movements. Social justice centred the goals of the women’s movement, the worker’s movement, the movement of educators who privilege self-development, and movements that fought for democratic politics.

That utopia of social justice guided progressive social change but, Haug asks, what would be the equivalent now? What kind of utopia might now take up some of those challenges that were addressed by modernist social movements, but also accommodate the concerns of many other people around the world who also seek dignity in life as human beings? She acknowledges the complexity of contemporary political divisions that texture spaces of experience, which are often overlooked in spaces of governing. But the solution to this complexity, Haug suggests, does not lie in command structures. It is not about telling people or being told what to do, and it is not just about defining a right goal or setting a right standard. Rather, the solution lies in the ‘art of politics’, which is about building connections, creating a ‘space of orientation’ that can re-contextualize fragmented struggles and social divisions.

Concepts and methods

The phrase ‘space of orientation’ resonates with my understanding of education and my prior research on ‘contexts’, knowledge and the work of educators (Seddon, 1986). But the idea of re-contextualization also highlights a temporal issue: it is where a prior present shapes a consequent present. Looking back to the 2002 collection of essays by Antonio Nóvoa and Martin Lawn (2002) I found a vocabulary that proved helpful. It targeted ‘europeanization’ as a social and historical project and linked it with the processes that were ‘Fabricating Europe’ and making ‘a European Education Space’.

Lawn and Nóvoa decided to research this europeanising agenda by drawing on their experience and asking, what is going on here? What does fabricating the European education space mean? Their project began by problematizing the way the European Commission was talking about Europe in the early 2000s. The Commission acknowledged education but not in very much detail prior to the 2000 Lisbon Council meeting. But then the whole agenda around education was refocused through the idea of building a ‘knowledge-based economy’. Prior to that, the Commission saw education in terms of what they called ‘affinity’, which recognized subsidiarity in relation to member-states and was addressed as the Commission used funding and policy instruments to encourage multilateralism through cross-border dialogue, cooperation and mobility via projects and networks.

In the early sections of Fabricating Europe, Nóvoa and Lawn explain the idea of the ‘European education space’. They depart from the policy rhetoric and how it discursively re-made existing national ways of talking about the space of education. The two authors reveal this policy agenda by focusing on the ambiguous and fuzzy policy idea of the ‘European educational space’, which brings larger and longer historical processes of europeanization into view. Referencing histories of education prior to the 1990s policy rhetoric’s revealed the space in-between governing and experiencing Europe, where experiencing is anchored by deeply textured historical memories and discursive logics that give the supranational space of ‘Europe’ its distinctive characteristics. Their research also prompted questions about the presence of nation-states and citizens within supranational ‘Europe’ and the possibility of a public space for education. Yet this problematization of europeanization and education also seems slippery as a spatial lexicon: which are critical spaces? How do they orient? And what effects unfold in-between these spaces?

These methodological resources – concepts, research methods and ways of doing research through networks – sharpen up the problem of ‘education space’. It started to clarify a sequence of questions: what is this space? Which space are we talking about? How do we know this space? What difference does it make if we know it through the concept of ‘governing’ or through the concept of ‘experience’? Asking these questions invoked not just concepts, but conceptual frameworks, and also ways of seeing, knowing and doing that rest on situated perceptions of space. It revealed how we are governed through social practices that are bordered and ordered by discourses of knowing and doing, and also through patterns of culturally anchored knowledge building based on particular forms of reasoning.

But the important temporal issue also needs to be embedded in these spatial questions. The challenge of understanding continuity and change in education is to bring sociological analysis of the here and now, and comparative insights from studies of here and there, into conversation with historical research that draws out the effects of then, now and next. These time questions focus attention on temporalities, rhythms of time and ways of remembering the past and imagining probable and preferred futures (McLeod, 2014; Sobe & Kowalczyk, 2012).

This entwining of social practices and knowledge building produce ‘entangled histories’. They materialise uneven space-times of education, and also constitute spaces of orientation that can re-contextualize fragmented struggles as ways of experiencing ‘Europe’ and Europe reference entanglements through at least three historical contexts:

multicultural entanglement (the intercrossing of synchronous cultures); transdiscursive entanglements (the intercrossing of theological, scientific or ethico-political debates, for example); and diachronic entanglement (the arguably inevitable way in which scholarly analysis interjects itself into, and alters, the past by the very process of attending to the first and second entanglements) (Burson, 2013: 3).

Re-narrating europeanization and education

These conceptual and methodological resources enable me to shift the problematic of governing towards a problematic of experiencing Europe. This intellectual move revealed the significance of social learning and how this learning informed labouring, which materialised knowings and doings in ways that referenced particular utopia’s. When I began my current book project in 2009 I thought I was just going to do a study of Australian adult education. Then I tripped over all of these conceptual framework questions and have spent a long time trying to unscramble myself. I think this personal narrative gives you a sense of what it means to know from experience. But where has it taken me?

Applying this problematic to processes of education reform, means I approach a phenomena like europeanisation as an effect and outcome of boundary politics. I trace how the bordering and ordering of spaces of governing and experiencing produce social learning and labouring, how these practices of knowing and doing unfold through in-between spaces, and with what effects. Approaching this agenda from different entry points means I have moved between intellectual pathways and I am trying to systematise my now over-complicated vocabularies. For example, I began by contextualising adult education reform with reference to globalization, which revealed in-between spaces as ‘hotspots of change’ (Dürrschmidt & Taylor, 2007) and as ‘global national analytic borderlands’, which which are ‘born of the interactive overlapping of global and national orders’ (Sassen, 2000: 219). But as I focused in on ‘spaces of orientation’, I recalled Raymond Williams (1976) analysis of 1960s Britain, which approached social learning through concepts such as a ‘structure of feeling’ and ‘culture of selective tradition’.

With hindsight I can see that I am working with mains three lines of inquiry and their vocabularies to triangulate my analysis of adult education reform. My general line of argument is illustrated in the chapter I circulated as pre-reading for this lecture. It explains how I am approaching the privatization of adult education as an entangled history. But embedded in that chapter and its comparative historical sociology are my core lines of research related to ‘context’, ‘professional work and learning’, and ‘practices of governing through knowledge’. These lines of research have bordered and ordered my working life as a researcher but, now, I am trying to put them together to offer an analysis of education in this present. Let me explain this triangulation and then outline the logic of my book project.

The idea of ‘context’ is foundational in my research; I published a critique during my PhD and have used contextual analysis to understand education ever since. In Context and Beyond, I defined ‘context’ as the ‘milieu, institutional matrix and medium of meaning within which educational practice occurs’ (Seddon, 1993: 6). More recently I have found it helpful to think about contexts as ‘civilisational complexes’: those ‘forms of society, culture, polity, religion and economy that ordinarily envelop human beings through out their lives’ (Mandalios, 2003: 65). The phrase ‘changing contexts’ has always been a helpful motif because the term ‘changing’ can be read as an adjective or verb. This grammatical dilemma has framed up a number of projects and, most recently, focused my attention on this present as a ‘context of uncertainty’ (Seddon, 2015).

Moving analytically between these two contextual grammars focuses my research on what and who makes change in education and societies. I initially drew on theories of the state to understand education reforms (Seddon, 1988) but then worked with Raewyn Connell, as a research assistant, in a small project titled ‘Teachers work and political action’ (Seddon & Connell, 1987). That project introduced me to Connell’s studies of teachers and sociologies of work, which provided a springboard for researching professionals as actors that imagined and made change. My initial work in Australia was methodological nationalist in character but, through the 1990s, it became clear that national teaching workforces were not sealed off from the imperatives of globalization (Seddon, 1997) I tracked the effects of travelling ideas on adult educators (Seddon & Levin, 2013), and also began to trace how Australian professionals were implicated in global-national borderlands.

The concept of ‘state’ has remained central to my research but, now, I am disaggregating that entity through historical sociologies of governing. Studies of europeanisation were central to this line of inquiry because the fabrication of supranational ‘Europe’ produced a ‘space of state’ that embraced a collection of nation-states by deploying novel practices of governing knowledge (Ozga, 2008; Fenwick, Mangez & Ozga, 2014). This re-spatialising boundary politics rested on the discursive projection of a ‘Europe of Peace’. Watching europeanisation from Australia alerted me to similarities and differences that exist between the boundary politics of ‘federal’ Europe and the federal government in Australia (Seddon, 1994), and how governing plays through social practices and knowledge building that hinges on sovereignty (Seddon, 2014). This line of inquiry has considered how policy-research agencies and practices of network governance were driving lifelong learning reforms (Seddon, 2009; Seddon & Bohren, 2012). It also opens up ways of analysing barriers to change (Seddon, 2016) and questions about where to from here? (Niemeyer, Mangez & Seddon, forthcoming)

My current book project aims to tie these three lines of inquiry together to lay out the groundwork for imagining a forward agenda that references the human right to education. The title isn’t yet fixed, but I am playing with Beyond Privatisation or perhaps Reclaiming Educational Space. I approach privatisation of education as an entangled history that is contextualised by the condition of ‘liquid learning’. I trace this liquidity to professional’s ‘learningthroughworking’ (White Hancock, 2016) and its effects as professionals work and learn in contexts of uncertainty. I illustrate these effects by tracing different types of professional work to show how professionals, and their knowings and doings, are implicated in privatisations that create both commercial education spaces alongside educational education spaces. I suggest this present is defined by the politics that play through this commercial-educational borderland. Recognising how this re-bordering and re-ordering of education respatialises the familiar public-private divide, I argue for an agenda that may enable professionals to sustain ‘quality education’ defined with reference to Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


I asked at the beginning of this lecture, how do we start to research the space in between governing and experiencing Europe? I recognize that there is some mess in the story I have told, and for that I apologize. But I think the mess in between governing and experiencing is an important mess, not just for Europeans but also for the earth and its peoples. It is necessary to engage with the mess between governing and experiencing because it becomes the historical context, the space of orientation, out of which social learning unfolds and has effects that steers and enables further social learning, and also makes and re-makes social change. But that mess between governing and experiencing is also what the people governing our countries today are trying to fix.

My concern is that they/we — citizens, politicians, and professionals — only see their/our own social worlds and ways of knowing and doing social learning. This means they/we do not fully grasp other worlds that emerge through experiencing ‘Europe’ and other emergent practices of governing in and also beyond supranational ‘Europe’. Research is a form of professional work that can and must speak into ways of knowing these spaces that contextualise and re-contextualise social learning. While it often seems that my research and writing disappears into a vacuum, it also informs how I act, communicate through, conversations and social media, teach and supervise research students. In this way, vocabularies, images and ideas do travel and lodge in unexpected places. They entangle habits of mind as well as wild imaginings. All these processes contribute to the way we will re-make our worlds and holding to the utopia of human rights in sustainable societies can enable and steer preferred futures.




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