|Table of Contents|

“Why Doesn’t This Feel Inclusive?” A Feminist Poststructuralist Study of Older Women Learners(PDF)

Global Lifelong Learning[ISSN:1006-6977/CN:61-1281/TN]

2021 02
Research Field:
Publishing date:


“Why Doesn’t This Feel Inclusive?” A Feminist Poststructuralist Study of Older Women Learners
Marvin Formosa
University of Malta
older women older adult learning feminism University of the Third Age
This article reports on the findings of a qualitative study at the University of the Third Age (U3A) in Malta to study the extent that learning in later life engaged with the feminist ideals of personal emancipation and social transformation. This study followed a poststructuralist feminist perspective on the basis that this approach allows the consideration of both older women’s subjectivities and diversities as well as the unequal power relations that characterise the social worlds they inhabit. Fieldwork found that the U3A functioned to meet a range of social and emotional needs of older women, as non-formal learning possesses much potential to mitigate against solitude and loneliness in later life, generally resulting from widowhood, mandatory retirement, health ailments and/or poverty. However, the U3A’s ethos also favoured a politically neutral standpoint, by overlooking the power relations that are embedded and institutionalised in social arenas which, in turn, have vital consequences for the life chances of women. First, it failed in supporting women’s learning and development of their voices. Secondly, women’s leadership needs to be amplified so that more females are positioned to make decisions, and thus, be at the forefront of social change. Finally, it failed in creating social change, that commenced at the civil society level. Recommendations are also threefold: educators are required to focus on the learners’ experiences and environments, learning is required to address the need for social change by educating and empowering those who are marginalised, and instructional methods should include the development of reflexivity and embodied learning.




Last Update: 2021-12-01