Space Is More Than Place: The Urban Context as Contested Terrain of Inclusive Learning Settings for Adults and Arena of Political Subjectivation

  • Silke Schreiber-BarschEmail author
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Education book series (BRIEFSEDUCAT)


The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) has placed the issue of lifelong learning opportunities and dis/ability at the top of national policy agendas. A re-order/ing of the topography of learning is taking place, yet an important question remains: are barriers being removed, merely shifted, or even re-produced under a different guise and in the name of equal access to participation? This paper examines societal systems of inclusion/exclusion through the lens of spatial theory (Löw in Raumsoziologie. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 2001), using the example of the German lifelong learning arena. It opens up an understanding of who gains access to public adult education institutions and, imperatively, why access is not merely a pedagogical issue, but in essence a negotiation of citizenship and politics—a negotiation that cuts right to the core of democratic societies. Empirical findings of a pilot study with a qualitative research design (Grounded Theory) allow insights into how access to a place of learning is interpreted and organized by adult education institutions. This leads to a discussion of Rancière’s (Disagreement: politics and philosophy. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1999) work on disagreement and to questions on whether now all adults interested in learning would like to and have to participate in what is on offer and whether this might foster processes of political subjectivation in the contested terrain of urban learning settings.


Space Inclusion Ableism Disability Adult learners Rancière Löw Political subjectivation 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HamburgHamburgGermany

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