There is little research in adult education exploring the relationship of the State to economic policy and political contexts and the implications and contradictions that exist within social structures. Those who have broached this topic (Torres 1990; Hart 1992; Collins 1991; Wangoola and Youngman 1996; Walters 1997) argue for a more comprehensive, critical view of adult education, and one that looks at social integration rather than economic homogenization.
This chapter explores some of the different ideas involved in the concepts of globalization, internationalization, and regionalization. In doing so, it offers a critical view of human capital formation—the driving force behind globalization—a discussion of the way in which changes in education are taking place as the globalization process expands, and at the same time it attempts to articulate some form of coherent educational response to this economic trend. In the first section of the chapter, I examine the use of the term “political economy” and its relationship to adult education, followed by a brief explanation of the historical patterns of economic globalization and regionalization. I then suggest a framework for developing strategies for adult education.
The use of the concept “political economy” to explain what changes are occurring in the field of adult education and its relationship to economic development seems appropriate for a number of reasons. In employing this concept, several assumptions using the neo-classical economic theory of human capital are being made about this relationship. The first assumption is that there is a very close relationship between the basic skills of reading and writing, cognitive