Subjectivity and consumption: concerns for radical adult education
Ryan, Anne B. (2004) Subjectivity and consumption: concerns for radical adult education. In: Unsettling the horses: Interrogating Perspectives in Adult Education. MACE.
This chapter posits that the linked issues of subjectivity and consumption are essential concerns for contemporary radical adult education. Radical adult education has 'a dialectical and organic relationship with social movements' (Crowther, Martin and Shaw, 2000: 172). It is socially and politically committed, in the sense that it seeks to promote equality and social justice. The term subjectivity is developed throughout the chapter, but, briefly, it refers to the subjective sense of the self, including ideas, beliefs and emotions. The term consumption is used here to refer to personal purchasing patterns in the North and the ways that status can be accorded to those who have a high number of material possessions. It is increasingly recognised that Northern patterns of consumption and the consumerist discourses that justify them are inimical to both global and local equality and social justice (Korten, 1998; Schor, 1998). The chapter hinges on the need for citizens in the North to challenge the common-sense belief that consumption is a natural and benign outcome of development, and that it is a sign of a high standard of living. It asserts the need for adult education to facilitate individuals to critically address their own patterns of consumption. In this project, it is allied with alternative economics' concerns for equality (Brandt, 1995; Henderson, 1991), and is part of the struggle for sustainable development in both the North and the South.
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