Governance in Practices: Delimitation and Contestation in Adult Education and Training Policy in Portugal

Fátima Antunes


This paper explores the governance of education, focusing on the terrain of practices. The analysis articulates the centrality of public authorities, such as the state―by discussing the mandate and the governance arrangement―with the approach of the policy cycle, by taking into account the “context of practices.” In the context of the development of public adult education and training policy in Portugal in the first decade of the twenty-first century, the paper discusses the movement towards an instrumental extension of the governance circle through agency distribution by public and private, civic, cultural, charity and commercial entities. Based on the testimonies of the heads of these entities, the text discusses their appropriations and reactions concerning the meaning of the policy at hand and its relationship with the state, along with the terms for contracting educational services, as well as the mandate and scope of educational activities. On the one hand, empirical data suggest that concerns regarding governability support the subordination of the agents contracted and nurture the state’s evasion from its commitments to the population’s rights and demands; on the other hand, several testimonies evoke contestation and interstitial practices that try to enlarge the scope of the community’s embeddedness in socio-educational and pedagogical interventions.


adult education and training policy; agency; education policy analysis; governance; Portugal; state reform

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