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This book is designed to provide an illuminating account of the nature of contemporary lifelong learning (LLL) in Europe. The institutional and social context to lifelong learning, as well as path-dependency of its development, is the cornerstone of the approach this book takes. The chapters also study the complex relationships between perspectives at the European level and the lifelong learning policies and practices within European countries. The book contains country chapters written by authors from the respective countries, who best know and can meaningfully explain the context. Based on prior cooperation by the authors who jointly carried out the research agenda within a European Union (EU) project that explored policy and practice in 13 countries, the book covers not only established Western EU member states (Austria, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Ireland), but a spectrum of newer EU member states of post-socialist Central and Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovenia) as well as non-members of the EU (Norway, Russia). Different political, economic and cultural backgrounds of the participating countries allowed the research teams to compare various concepts and practices of lifelong learning adopted in these countries. As the research was carried out between 2005 and 2011, the chapters in this book are all based on up-to-date empirical investigations. Largely, the chapters address lifelong learning policies, the participation of adults in formal learning, their access to learning, perceived obstacles to participation and perceived individual demand for learning opportunities.

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