Continuously reaffirmed, subtly accommodated, obviously missing and fallaciously critiqued: Ideologies in UNESCO's lifelong learning policy

Moosung Lee, Friedrich Tom

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Although the lifelong learning policy of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has had a unique impact on international discussions over the last four decades, little historical research has revealed the ideological influences at work within UNESCO's lifelong learning policy texts. With this in mind, this paper exposes the authoritative and marginal ideological influences within UNESCO's lifelong learning policy during the period between the 1990s and the early 2000s. Specifically, this research's analysis reveals that while social democratic liberalism as a dominant ideology was continuously reaffirmed in UNESCO's lifelong learning policy texts during the period, neoliberal stances were also subtly accommodated and radical social democrats' ideas missing in its recent lifelong learning policy texts. Furthermore, UNESCO's lifelong learning was fallaciously critiqued as being opposed to another global development agendum, education for all (EFA). Implications for realising good policy and global justice in conditions dominated by neoliberal capitalism are discussed in depth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-169
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Lifelong Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Mar

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Education, Hong Kong. He earned a PhD from the University of Minnesota, funded by a Fulbright Scholarship, UNESCO Fellowship and Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship. His research interest is lifelong education and social capital. His recent research on these topics has been published in British Journal of Sociology of Education and Comparative Education. Correspondence: Hong Kong Institute of Education, Educational Policy and Leadership, D4-1F-42, 10 Lo Ping Rd., Tai Po, NT, Hong Kong. Email: Tom Friedrich is assistant professor of English and director of Freshman Composition at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. He holds a PhD in literacy education from the University of Minnesota. His research on teacher identity and response to student writing has been published in The Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology and Handbook of Writing Research. Correspondence: SUNY-Plattsburgh, Plattsburgh, USA. Email:

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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