From the outset, the project partners summarizing their findings in the present book looked for systemic elements in their national education, training and labour market structures that could point to the emergence of national lifelong learning systems. Albeit some countries show few signs of a (public) lifelong learning discourse (Holford et al. 2008), some dimensions of lifelong learning (LLL) are present at a system level, therefore paving the way for a discussion of lifelong learning typologies. Ericson (1982) claims that wherever the education system emerges, it basically distributes two distinct types of goods. The first consists of knowledge, skills and certain values; the second consists of symbolic grades, diplomas, transcripts, letters of recommendation and so on (see also Bills 2003). The second kind of goods acts as the common coinage or medium of exchange that connects separate educational institutions; as Ericson (1982, p. 309) explains: ‘[w]ithout them, there can be no education system as such’. Ericson holds that a general theory of the educational system needs to ‘yield some kind of standards for judging which social institutions belong to the educational system and which stand outside it’ (1982, p. 299). In this chapter, we argue that beyond a general theory of LLL systems, there is a need for multiple typologies in order to escape assumptions of a single economic trajectory for market economies and for their LLL systems.
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