Legal Education in a European 'Learning Society': A Case Study of Globalization as Hybridization
Posted: 4 Jun 2001
In an earlier paper (Webb, 1999) I argued that recent trends in English legal education, specifically the moves towards mass provision of a more flexible, performative and outcome-driven curriculum - have been consistent with a shift towards a strongly post-Fordist reconstruction of liberal educationalism. In this paper I intend to develop that argument in the context of European Union policy on higher education, culminating (thus far) in the Bologna Declaration of 1999.
Since the early 1990s the EU's version of 'a learning society' has evolved into a post-Fordist, market vision for higher education. This paper will focus particularly on the study of EU policy and its implementation as an examplar of the ways in which (legal) higher education is becoming globalized. Globalization is, of course, a core element of post-Fordist political economy. However, I suggest we should not restrict our attention purely to political economy's concern with the internationalisation (or Americanisation) of education markets. The notion of the 'learning society' suggests a reconfiguring of both the structural forms of social organisation which make up the milieu of legal education, and our conception of academic knowledge itself. This process I will characterise, following Nederveen Pieterse (1995), as one of "structural hybridization". The paper will conclude by reflecting on some of the threats and opportunities such hybridization seems to offer.
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