International Review of Education

, Volume 62, Issue 3, pp 317–341 | Cite as

Professionalisation as development and as regulation: Adult education in Germany, the United Kingdom and India

  • Lesley DoyleEmail author
  • Regina Egetenmeyer
  • Chetan Singai
  • Uma Devi
Original Paper


In this paper, the authors seek to disentangle what they see as contradictory uses of the term “professionalisation” with reference to adult educator development and training (AEDT). They set out to distinguish professionalisation from professionalism, and to identify the locus of control of AEDT in Germany, the UK and India. In these three countries, all of which have a long tradition of adult education, “professionalisation” and “professionalism” are used interchangeably to describe conflicting purposes. The authors aim to identify and critically explore the organisations and policies which control and support AEDT in their own countries using American sociologist Eliot Freidson’s “third logic” model, and drawing on his juxtaposition of “professions”, “the market” and “bureaucracy”. Applying Freidson’s models to the organisations highlights the role of bureaucracy and that where adult education is concerned, national governments, the European Union and aid organisations not only serve bureaucracy but also support the market rather than operating separately from it. While the term “professionalisation” continues to be used to mean professional development, either by adult educators and representative organisations (as in the UK) or by organisations acting on their behalf (as in Germany and India), it is also used to denote regulation and standardisation issuing from bureaucratic institutions and adult education provider organisations in the interests of the market. The authors suggest that Freidson’s model provides a useful tool for adult educators in other countries to reflect on their professional position and to engage in the development of their own professional standards, both in their own interests and in the interests of those they educate.


Professionalism Adult education Professionalisation Bureaucracy Market 


Professionnalisation synonyme de développement et de réglementation: éducation des adultes en Allemagne, au Royaume-Uni et en Inde – Les auteurs de cet article visent à clarifier ce qu’ils considèrent comme usages contradictoires du terme « professionnalisation » dans le domaine du développement et de la formation des éducateurs d’adultes (DFEA). Ils établissent tout d’abord une distinction entre professionnalisation et professionnalisme, et identifient le locus de contrôle dans le DFEA en Allemagne, au Royaume-Uni et en Inde. Dans ces trois pays, possédant chacun une longue tradition en éducation des adultes, les termes professionnalisation et professionnalisme sont utilisés indifféremment pour décrire des objectifs contradictoires. Les auteurs poursuivent le but d’identifier et d’examiner d’un œil critique les organisations et politiques qui contrôlent et soutiennent le DFEA dans leurs pays, en appliquant le modèle de la « troisième logique » du sociologue américain Eliot Freidson et en s’inspirant de sa juxtaposition de « professions » , « marché » et « bureaucratie » . L’application des modèles de Freidson à ces organisations éclaire le rôle de la bureaucratie et montre que dans le cas de l’éducation des adultes, le gouvernement central, l’Union européenne ou les organisations humanitaires non seulement servent la bureaucratie mais soutiennent aussi le marché au lieu d’opérer indépendamment de lui. Le terme « professionnalisation » continue à être utilisé dans le sens de développement professionnel, soit par les éducateurs d’adultes eux-mêmes et leurs organismes de représentation (au Royaume-Uni), soit par des organismes agissant pour leur compte (en Allemagne et en Inde). Mais il est également employé pour désigner la réglementation et la standardisation émanant des institutions bureaucratiques et des prestataires en éducation des adultes dans l’intérêt du marché. Les auteurs suggèrent que le modèle de Freidson fournit un outil utile aux éducateurs d’adultes d’autres pays, leur permettant de considérer leur situation en termes professionnels afin de prendre en main leurs propres normes, dans l’intérêt de la « profession » quelle que soit sa forme, et de ceux auxquels ils dispensent une éducation.



We would like to acknowledge the support of the ASEM (Asia–Europe Meeting) LLL (Lifelong Learning) Hub ( of the Asia-Europe Foundation ( Three authors of this paper, Dr Lesley Doyle, Professor Regina Egetenmeyer and Dr D. Uma Devi, are members of the ASEM LLL Research Network 3 (Professionalisation) and it is through the work of the Network that this paper was conceptualised. Our thanks also go to Professors Barbara Kehm and Michael Osborne of the University of Glasgow for their advice and recommendations on earlier drafts of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lesley Doyle
    • 1
    Email author
  • Regina Egetenmeyer
    • 2
  • Chetan Singai
    • 3
  • Uma Devi
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Education, College of Social Sciences,University of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  2. 2.Fakultät für Humanwissenschaften, Institut für PädagogikJulius-Maximilians-UniversitätWürzburgGermany
  3. 3.EDGE and National Institute of Advanced StudiesIndian Institute of Science CampusBengaluruIndia
  4. 4.Women’s Studies CentreSri Padmavati Women’s UniversityTirupatiIndia

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