Who counts? Disruptions to adult education’s idyll and its topography of lifelong learning

Interlinking Rancière’s political philosophy with adult education


  • Silke Schreiber-Barsch University of Hamburg




citizenship, Rancière, spatiality, disability, civic learning


The question: ‘who counts?’ is raised in this paper at modern democratic society’s fabric, and, more specifically, at the arena of adult education and its counting procedure regarding its clientele, bringing the issue of dis/ability to the fore. For, thus, interlinking citizenship, adult education, and dis/ability, the paper explores the work on disagreement and dissensus by the French political philosopher Jacques Rancière as a theoretical framework. References to qualitative empirical research, elaborating on citoyen sanspapiers (= people without legal papers) in France and on planning and managing activities towards inclusive learning settings by adult education practitioners in Germany, serve to illuminate the theoretical underpinnings’ strengths and limitations. It shall lead not only to a fruitful encounter between interdisciplinary theoretical approaches, but also to push the claim that deliberation and civic learning ultimately depends on expressing voice and being listened to, not least by adult education academia, profession and practitioners.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biography

Silke Schreiber-Barsch, University of Hamburg

Asst. Prof. in Adult Education


Amin, A. (2015). Animated space. Public culture, 27(2), 239-258. https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-2841844

Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung. (Eds.). (2014). Bildung in Deutschland 2014. Bielefeld: W. Bertelsmann.

Bastrup-Birk, H., & Wildemeersch, D. (2013). A fresh take on democratic education: Revisiting Rancière through the notions of emergence and enaction. Complicity, 10(1/2), 111-129.

Biesta, G. (2014). Learning in public places: Civic learning for the twenty-first century. In G. Biesta, M. D. Bie, & D. Wildemeersch (Eds.), Civic learning, Democratic citizenship and the public sphere (pp. 1-11). Dordrecht et al.: Springer.

Biesta, G., & Lawy, R. (2006). From teaching citizenship to learning democracy: Overcoming individualism in research, policy and practice. Cambridge journal of education, 1, 63-79. https://doi.org/10.1080/03057640500490981

Bösl, E., Klein, A., & Waldschmidt, A. (Eds.). (2010). Disability history. Bielefeld: Transcript. https://doi.org/10.14361/transcript.9783839413616

Campbell, F.K. (2009). Contours of ableism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230245181

Davidson, M., & Iveson, K. (2014). Occupations, mediations, subjectifications: fabricating politics. Space and polity, 18(2), 137-152. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562576.2013.879775

Davis, O. (2010). Jacques Rancière. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Desforges, L., Jones, R., & Woods, M. (2005). New geographies of citizenship. Citizenship studies, 9(5), 439-451. https://doi.org/10.1080/13621020500301213

Devlin, R., & Pothier, D. (2006). Introduction: Towards a critical theory of dis-citizenship. In D. Pothier, & R. Devlin (Eds.), Critical disability theory (pp. 1-22). Vancouver & Toronto: UBC.

Dower, N. (2008). Are we all global citizens or are only some of us global citizens? In A. A. Abdi, & L. Shultz (Eds.), Educating for human rights and global citizenship (pp. 39–53). Albany: State University of New York Press.

Feola, M. (2014). Speaking subjects and democratic space: Rancière and the politics of speech. Polity, 46(4), 498-519. https://doi.org/10.1057/pol.2014.24

gisti (2013). Sans-papiers, mais pas sans droits. (6nd ed.). Paris : île de France.

Heimlich, U., & Behr, I. (2009). Inklusion von Menschen mit Behinderung in der Erwachsenenbildung/Weiterbildung. In R. Tippelt, & A.v. Hippel (Eds.), Handbuch Erwachsenenbildung/Weiterbildung (3rd. ed.) (pp. 813-826). Wiesbaden: VS Verl. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-531-91834-1_49

Isin, E. F., & Nyers, P. (2014). Introduction: Globalizing citizenship studies. In E. F. Isin, & P. Nyers (Eds.), Routledge handbook of global citizenship studies (pp. 1-11). London & New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203102015

Kabeer, N. (2005). Introduction. The search for inclusive citizenship: Meanings and expressions in an interconnected world. In N. Kabeer (Ed.), Inclusive citizenship. meanings and expressions (pp. 1-27). London & New York: Zed Books.

KIDS (2017). Schwer-in-Ordnung-Ausweis. Von Hannah Kiesbye. KIDS Aktuell. Magazin zum Down-Syndrom (pp. 16-17). 36/2017. Retrieved June 5, 2018, from http://www.kidshamburg.de/media/KIDS_Aktuell_als_pdf/KIDS_Aktuell_Nr._36_internet_kl.pdf

Koscheck, S., Weiland, M., & Ditschek, E. J. (2013). wbmonitor Umfrage 2012: Klima und Strukturen der Weiterbildungslandschaft. BiBB & DIE. Retrieved February 22, 2016, from www.bibb.de/dokumente/pdf/wbmonitor_Ergebnisbericht_Umfrage_2012.pdf

La Découverte (2009). Les hommes comme animaux littéraires. Entretien avec Jacques Rancière, propos recueillis par Christian Delacroix, Nelly Wolf-Kohn. In La Découverte (Ed.), Pensées critiques. Dix itinéraires de la revue Mouvements 1998-2008 (pp. 49-68). La Découverte : Paris.

Lindmeier, C. (2003). Integrative Erwachsenenbildung. DIE Zeitschrift für Erwachsenenbildung, 10(4), 28–35.

Linton, S. (1998). Claiming disability. Knowledge and identity. New York & London: New York University Press.

Löw, M. (2001). Raumsoziologie. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Löw, M. (2016). The sociology of space. Materiality, social structures, and action. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-69568-3

Ludwig, K. (2008). Citoyen Sans-Papiers. Irreguläre MigrantInnen als politische AkteurInnen in Frankreich. Universität Wien: Peter Lang.

Marin, L. (2006). Gêner pour rexister. Migrations société, 18(104), 121-147.

Pastuhov, A., & Rusk, F. (2018). Citizenship as individual responsibility through personal investment – An ethnographic study in a study circle. European journal for research on the education and learning of adults, 9(1), 95-108. https://doi.org/10.3384/rela.2000-7426.relaojs99

Poore, C. (2009). Disability in twentieth-century German culture. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Purcell, M. (2014). Rancière and revolution. Space and polity, 18(2), 168-181. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562576.2014.911591

Rancière, J. (1999). Disagreement: Politics and philosophy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Rancière, J. (2010). Dissensus. On politics and aesthetics. London & New York : Continuum.

Rancière, J. (2011). The thinking of dissensus: Politics and aesthetics. In P. Bowman, & R. Stamp (Eds.), Reading Rancière (pp. 1-17). London & New York : Continuum.

Reichenbach, R. (2000). “Es gibt Dinge, über die man sich einigen kann, und wichtige Dinge.” Zur pädagogischen Bedeutung des Dissenses. Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, 46(6), 795-807. https://doi.org/10.11126/stanford/9780804760737.001.0001

Richardson, J.G. & Powell, J.J.W. (2011). Comparing special education. Origins to contemporary Paradoxes. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Riddell, S. & Watson, N. (2014). Disability, culture and identity. London & New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315847634

Rieger-Ladich, M. (2016). “Gegen-Schicksalsgeschichten” erzählen. Konturen einer Politischen Ästhetik nach Jacques Rancière und Alexander Kluge. In R. Casale, H.-C. Koller, & N. Ricken (Eds.), Das Pädagogische und das Politische (pp. 143-164). Paderborn: Schöningh.

Rocco, T.S., & Delgado, A. (2011). Shifting lenses: A critical examination of disability in adult education. In T.S. Rocco (Ed.), Challenging ableism, understand disability, including adults with disabilities in workplaces and learning spaces. New directions for adult and continuing education, number 132 (pp. 3-12).San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. https://doi.org/10.1002/ace.426

Schaap, A. (2011). Enacting the right to have rights : Jacques Rancière’s critique of Hannah Arendt. European journal of political theory, 10(1), 22-45. https://doi.org/10.1177/1474885110386004

Schreiber-Barsch, S. (2017). Space is more than place: The urban context as contested terrain of inclusive learning settings for adults and arena of political subjectivation. In H. Sacré, & S. de Visscher (Eds.), Learning the city. Cultural approaches to civic learning in urban spaces (pp. 67-81). Cham: SpringerBriefs in Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-46230-1_5

Schreiber-Barsch, S. (2018). Global citizenship education and globalism. In I. Davies, D. Kiwan, C. Peck, A. Peterson, E. Sant, J. Sim, & Y. Waghid (Eds.), The palgrave handbook of global citizenship and education (pp. 113-131). Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-59733-5_8

Schreiber-Barsch, S., & Fawcett, E. (2017). Inklusionsarchitekturen: Wie wird ein Lernort zu einem inklusiven Lernort im öffentlichen Raum des Lebenslangen Lernens? Zeitschrift für Weiterbildungsforschung, 40(3), 295-319. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40955-017-0097-x

Shakespeare, T. (2013). Disability rights and wrongs revisited. (2nd ed.). London & New York: Routledge.

Simons, M., & Masschelein, J. (2010). Hatred of democracy…and of the public role of education? Introduction to the special issue on Jacques Rancière. Educational philosophy and theory, 42(5-6),509-522. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-5812.2010.00682.x

Snyder, S. L. & Mitchell, D. T. (2006). Cultural locations of disability. Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press. https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226767307.001.0001

Statistisches Bundesamt. (2014). 7,5 Millionen schwerbehinderte Menschen leben in Deutschland. Retrieved June 5, 2018, from https://www.destatis.de/DE/PresseService/Presse/Pressemitteilungen/2014/07/PD14_266_227.html;jsessionid=38719C774D385272898DF5E7990D14F7.cae1.

Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research – Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. London: Sage Publications.

Swyngedouw, E. (2014). Where is the political? Insurgent mobilisations and the incipient “return of the political”. Space and polity, 18(2),122-136. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562576.2013.879774

United Nations. (1948). Universal declaration of human rights. Retrieved February 22, 2016, from http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Documents/UDHR_Translations/eng.pdf

United Nations. (2006). Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. Retrieved February 22, 2016, from www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml

Waghid, Y. (2014). Pedagogy out of bounds. Untamed variations of democratic education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-6209-616-5

Export in BibTex, RIS or text



How to Cite

Schreiber-Barsch, S. (2018). Who counts? Disruptions to adult education’s idyll and its topography of lifelong learning: Interlinking Rancière’s political philosophy with adult education. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 9(2), 179–192. https://doi.org/10.3384/rela.2000-7426.ojs253