Adult Education as a means to Social Inclusion in Nordic Welfare States: Denmark, Finland and Sweden

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Denmark, Sweden and Finland are Nordic welfare states that historically have put a high value on both basic and adult education. Citizens should have equal opportunities to participate in education and society. Adult education has been a topical means to include citizens in active societal participation. This has been realised by providing special support for those in need. Currently, the dominance of neo-liberal market economies has challenged this educational ideology, and adult education has increasingly become reduced to only one of its functions, that of employability. Besides formal education, even informal learning has been harnessed for developing and maintaining work-related skills. Budget cuts have affected adult education while resources have increased on guidance and counselling, transition from basic to upper secondary education, education for the low-skilled and continuing training for workforce. Drawing on the history and present challenges this chapter discusses the possibilities to strengthen social inclusion through adult education. In the focus are groups that are at risk of staying outside the education society. The consequences of unfinished basic education and recently the educational needs of migrants and asylum seekers have revealed the largely unattended challenges of young adults and the vulnerability involved in comparison to the relatively high educated mainstream population. Our research focusing on social inclusion of vulnerable groups through differentiated support activities provides space to discuss, how adult education may regain its leading role in enhancing equal opportunities towards active political, social and economic participation in the Nordic societies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Young Adults and Active Citizenship
Subtitle of host publicationTowards Social Inclusion through Adult Education
EditorsNatasha Kersh, Hanna Toiviainen, Pirkko Pitkänen, George K. Zarifis
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-65002-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-65001-8
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

Publication series

NameLifelong Learning Book Series
ISSN (Print)1871-322X
ISSN (Electronic)2730-5325


  • adult education, ccitizenship, Nordic countries

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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