University of Leicester
2012kaoniasocsci.pdf (1.46 MB)

The impact of lifelong learning on the work and life of women in Greece

Download (1.46 MB)
posted on 2016-04-07, 10:41 authored by Alexandra Kaoni
The impact of lifelong learning on individuals‘ work and life is often discussed within the framework of a particular ideology. For supranational organizations and governments lifelong learning is emancipatory, democratic, and necessary for prosperity. For some critical theorists lifelong learning is re-skilling of adults in order to fit the neo-liberal interests of the employers; hence, a mechanism for exclusion and control. Despite the fervor this debate has been conducted, few studies have explored the effects of lifelong learning on individuals‘ work and life from their own perspective. Moreover, most discussions have ostensibly ignored women‘s experience. This thesis addresses the gap by examining women‘s understanding of, and motivations for lifelong learning, and its impact on their work and life. The study is based on 23 semi-structured interviews with working women in Greece who have repeatedly participated in learning within the context of higher education. Findings show that women understand lifelong learning as certified, structured and expensive. Personal need, caring and sharing with others, doing their jobs better and enhancing their social status are some of their key motivational factors. Women‘s private returns to lifelong learning are negligible and their career advancement is impeded mainly due to party patronage and patriarchy in the workplace. However, women appreciated the positive effects of lifelong learning on job performance and increased confidence for future career opportunities. Despite the strain associated with their effort to combine work, life and studies, women acknowledged the wider non-monetary benefits for them and their family. The positive role of husbands and family, and the little support from the employer and academia especially for single and/or childless women were highlighted. This thesis questions the validity of the Human Capital Theory in the case of women lifelong learners and suggests that the benefits are not necessarily related to employment and economic competitiveness.



Goodwin, John; O'Connor, Henrietta

Date of award


Author affiliation

Centre for Labour Market Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • DSocSci



Usage metrics

    University of Leicester Theses


    No categories selected



    Ref. manager