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Radical heroes : Gramsci, Freire and the liberal tradition in adult education

Coben, Diana Cicely (1992) Radical heroes : Gramsci, Freire and the liberal tradition in adult education. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94279) (KAR id:94279)


In the 1970s and 1980s many radical adult educators in the United Kingdom turned to the work of Antonio Gramsci and Paulo Freire for theoretical insights to support new initiatives in the education of adults. The thesis considers the significance of the work of Gramsci and Freire in the development of theories of adult education in Britain in the period following the publication of the Russell and Alexander Reports.

The thesis begins by charting the origins of the dominant tradition in British adult education, the Liberal Tradition, starting with an analysis of concepts of liberal education and outlining the struggle for education and for emancipation by working class groupings from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The thesis then traces the development, in the twentieth century, of the Liberal Tradition, with its emphasis on education for personal development and social purpose and for leisure as opposed to vocational education. The origins and development of radical critiques of liberal adult education in the period up to 1990 are outlined and some conceptualisations of the relationship between liberal and radical adult education are analysed. Freire's analysis of the transformative role of adult education in liberating the oppressed is considered, as is Gramsci7s concept of politics as educative, his writing on hegemony, the role of intellectuals and the nature of education in a revolutionary process. The relationship between Gramsci, Freire and the Liberal Tradition is explored, and the thesis considers the appropriateness of the emergence of Gramsci and Freire as 'Radical Heroes' in radical critiques and developments of the Liberal Tradition in adult education.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94279
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Education & training
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
A General Works > AZ History of Scholarship. The Humanities
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
L Education > LA History of education
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 19 May 2023 14:00 UTC
Last Modified: 19 May 2023 14:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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