The Politics of Nonformal Education in Latin America

By Carlos Alberto Torres | Go to book overview

between the social relations of production and educational social relations with that of contradictions that arise as much from the functioning of the state educational apparatus as from the structure of social power and production.

Finally, because it links the production of public policy with alternative social movements, this approach is particularly important in conjunctures of political crisis. At the same time, the social movements approach is different from focusing on social actors, where it is a question of a specific group making decisions (policymakers, politicians, bureaucracies, their linkages, conflicts, political culture, etc.), thus constituting the overwhelming focus of attention in the study of public policy. However, the understanding of educational policy formation from the larger perspective of political conflict, along with the most significant collective positions that may influence policies, would be of much use for studying Latin American societies, states, and politics. 1


CONCLUSION

A great number of questions remain. In the first place, can the exposition developed to this point take into account all of the possible agendas of research, or would it have to include others or refine even further those presented here? Reviewing the alternative agendas, to what extent is it feasible to establish a combination of approaches for an integrated study of educational policy, without excessively forcing the epistemological principles demarcating different social theories?

Likewise, if it were feasible to study adult education policies following these approaches, would such a study be done in stages? That is, would it be feasible to begin with an approach based on the social actor and end up by understanding the formation of adult education on the basis of an approach based on conflict and social movements? At another level of analysis, are the questions of research noted above useful for, adequate to, and complete enough for the study of adult education policy?

The panorama is even more complicated if we think that every study of educational policy that claims to move beyond the case study (local, regional, or national), and seeks to reach conclusions that are sufficiently rigorous to be of use in the regional context of Latin America and the Caribbean, must be carried out in a comparative manner. The work of Thomas La Belle ( 1986), including a historical and structural approach, constitutes a very valuable example here. In these terms many of the most significant studies that adopt a strongly quantitative approach by means of surveys--for example, the classic work of James Coleman et al. ( 1966, 1982)--however suggestive for knowing the relation between inputs and outputs in education, have been amply criticized, as much for intrinsic problems of measurement as for problems in the data analysis (e.g., Bowles and Levin, 1968; Jencks et al., 1972).

For the reasons noted, the predominant use of quantitative methodologies and inferential statistical analysis for studying adult education policy in Latin

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