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Political, economic and cultural contexts

The importance of context, whether cultural, economic, political or social, for understanding the complexities of learning and teaching, lies at the heart of TLRP’s research. How context is conceptualised, however, has differed across and within the projects and thematic work that has been undertaken. This is, to some extent, because of the different social scientific approaches that were used by TLRP researchers with ‘policy context’ uppermost by education and social policy researchers, whilst an embedded approach was taken by those with a more social and psychological perspective. It could also be illustrated in how socio-economic and political context underpinned the principles that we enunciated and found most especially in principles 1, 3 and 10, viz:

  • to ‘equip learners for life in its broadest sense’,
  •  ‘recognises the importance of prior experience and learning’
  • which ‘demands consistent policy frameworks with support for teaching and learning as their primary focus’

Illustrations of how socio-political and economic factors as a generic theme are threaded throughout can be found in the contrasting thematic work undertaken by two rather theoretically and methodologically different teams. First, a group of economists as educational researchers, using largely quantitative methods to understand and explain the so-called ‘Wider Benefits of Learning’ provided evidence:

Secondly, a cross-disciplinary team of social and sociological researchers using some of the TLRP projects across the life-course provided a more methodological and philosophical consideration of how to reconceptualise

Thirdly, given the ways in which policy-relevant research has been at the heart of TLRP's suite of projects, there are key examples of how  projects have fore-grounded the political and policy context, especially with respect to perhaps the most contentious policy arena, that of post-compulsory further and higher education and issues of widening access and participation, viz:

Within the suite of Widening Participation to HE projects, examples included the study of Dual Regimes of FE & HE and the project entitled Degrees of success: the Transition between VET and HE

Publications related to the general theme of political, economic and cultural contexts are listed below:


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