The contents of the latest issue of:
International Journal of Adult Vocational Education and Technology (IJAVET)
Volume 5, Issue 2, April – June 2014
Published: Quarterly in Print and Electronically
ISSN: 1947-8607; EISSN: 1947-878X;
Published by IGI Global Publishing, Hershey, USA

Editor(s)-in-Chief: Victor C. X. Wang (Florida Atlantic University, USA), Stephen Brookfield (University of St. Thomas, USA), Patricia Cranton (University of New Brunswick, Canada)

Note: There are no submission or acceptance fees for manuscripts submitted to the International Journal of Adult Vocational Education and Technology (IJAVET). All manuscripts are accepted based on a double-blind peer review editorial process.


Special Issue on Critical Theory

Michael R. Welton (Athabasca University, Alberta, Canada)

To obtain a copy of the Guest Editorial Preface, click on the link below. Issue on Critical Theory


Karl Marx and the Paris Commune of 1871: Tracing Traditions of Critical Pedagogy

Robert McGray (Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada)

In 1871, citizens of the war torn arrondissements of Paris, in the face of traumatic political and military turmoil, established a new local form of government. The Paris Commune, as this government became known as in the English world, attracted attention for its alternative political-economic organization. One notable commentator was Karl Marx who, while living in England at the time, commentated on the Commune as a test of the bourgeoning field of critical theory. This paper traces Marx’s work on the Commune, specifically in The Civil War in France, to examine how his work on this historical event underpins crucial concepts for critical pedagogy in contemporary adult education. While the trajectory between Marx’s writings on the Commune and critical adult education is underrepresented and often unacknowledged, I argue that there is an important connection: The Civil War in France revises Marx’s theory of dialectics in such a way that it allows us to understand informal learning as a process for possible critique.

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Repressive Tolerance and the Practice of Adult Education

Stephen D. Brookfield (University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, MN, USA)

Herbert Marcuse’s concept of repressive tolerance argues that behind the justification of tolerance lies the possibility of ideological domination. Tolerance allows intolerable practices to go unchallenged and flattens discussion to assume all viewpoints have equal validity. When alternative, dissenting views are inserted into the curriculum dominant ideology means they are always positioned as the ‘other’ in relation to the mainstream. This article takes Marcuse’s concept and applies it to a number of familiar adult educational practices and concerns. It considers how Marcuse’s contrasting notion of liberating tolerance might be manifest in adult education.

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Critical Theory, Critical Pedagogy and the Permanent Crisis in Community Colleges

Howard A. Doughty (Seneca College, King City, Ontario, Canada)

The historical failures of Marxism in the twentieth-century came in three forms: the inability to account for the rise of fascism and Nazism; the establishment of authoritarian regimes where “communist” revolutions had occurred, largely in pre-industrial societies from barely post-feudal Russia to peasant-based China and “developing” nations such as Vietnam; and the incapacity of the proletariat to develop class consciousness and foment class conflict in advanced industrial societies, where Marx and his followers knew capitalism to have arisen and where they assumed it would first be transcended. Seeking to understand these failures, yet to preserve and apply foundational elements of Marx’s thought, the “critical theorists” of the Frankfurt Institute—at home and in exile—drew on additional sources including Hegel and Freud to diagnose the pathologies of modernity, though rarely to offer restorative treatments for Enlightenment values or Marxian transformation. Jürgen Habermas, the acknowledged leader of the “second generation” of critical theorists refused to succumb to the pessimism of his elders and reached out to increasingly diverse scholars in an effort to redeem the goals of reason, democracy and equity in modern life. His theoretical work—often abstract and dense—remains almost as marginal to mainstream thought as that of Adorno and Horkheimer before him; yet, it has influenced a minority of philosophers and social scientists still interested in education as an emancipatory human project. Using the specific context of contemporary community colleges, this contribution seeks to build bridges between Habermas’ combination of basically Marxian, often Kantian, and always eclectic thought to show how educators could profitably reflect upon their professional lifeworlds, better comprehend the neoliberal ideology and power relations that entrap them, and find new inspiration and advice should they wish to interrogate and confront the corporate world in which they ply their trade.

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In Defense of Norm Circles: A New Normative Foundation for Adult Education

Donovan Plumb (Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada)

According to Michael Welton, because of its capacity to support social learning, critical adult education has a pivotal role to play in human emancipation. Drawing on Jürgen Habermas’s critical theory of communicative action, Welton argues that critical adult education’s deepest contemporary purpose is to foster social learning that can enable people to resist the destructive colonization of lifeworld contexts. This paper argues that, while Habermas provides important insight into the normative foundations of critical adult education, his theory of communicative action does not possess an ontology that can sufficiently illuminate the ways human learning shapes and is shaped by lifeworld contexts. The emergent ontology of critical realism, the paper argues, especially as mobilized by sociologist, Dave Elder-Vass in his discussion of norm circles, provides an additional theoretical basis for enabling critical adult education to realize its fullest emancipatory potential.

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Work and Emancipation in the Age of Precarious: Engaging Habermas and His Critics

Michael R. Welton (Athabasca University, Athabasca, Alberta, Canada)

The domain and status of work or purposive-rational action in the writings of Jurgen Habermas is highly controversial. Some of his critics accuse him of abandoning the emancipatory potential of non-alienated labor, a central axiom of classic Marxism. This article analyzes his critics’ arguments before taking up the influential commentary of Axel Honneth. His arguments are of significance for adult educators: he reinstates, modestly, the emancipatory potential of the organization of production by discovering a philosophical and moral grounding of this provocative proposal.

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For full copies of the above articles, check for this issue of the International Journal of Adult Vocational Education and Technology (IJAVET) in your institution’s library. This journal is also included in the IGI Global aggregated “InfoSci-Journals”database: