Juan Ramón Rodríguez Fernández, Enrique Javier Díez Gutiérrez

Poverty and Education. A Political Discourse Analysis of Vocational Training Courses

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Guaranteed Minimum Income Programmes; Adult Education; Vocational Training; Political Discourse Analysis; Social Exclusion.

Programmes of Minimum Incomes for Integration or Guaranteed Minimum Incomes (GMIs) are the principal mechanisms for fighting poverty and achieving social inclusion among social policies in the European Union (EU). In these policies, education and vocational training hold a major place as a fundamental element favouring the integration into society of people in situations of social exclusion. This paper is intended to outline the current characteristics of such minimum income (GMI) policies. The paper’s starting-point is an analytic strategy that inherits the approaches taken by Michel Foucault and Ernesto Laclau. It undertakes a critical analysis of the various hegemonic educational discourses applied to these schemes for a minimum income and the social effects that they cause in the field of education and training for groups at social risk. Through consideration of these discourses, it will be determined what role education plays within them, highlighting the principles of employability and the Theory of Human Capital underlying training in minimum income schemes. The paper will underline the ‘poverty business’ that training courses for the poor have provided for certain private enterprises. These characteristics have taken the shape of an increasingly prevalent educational discourse that may be termed the Holy Crusade to Educate the Poor. In this, education fulfils a double function: on the one hand social redemption for the poor, and on the other a punitive mechanism for social control of the marginalized. Finally, the paper will propose an alternative model for minimum income schemes, intended to achieve a fairer and more cohesive society: the Basic Income. It indicates what role may be played by education, specifically adult education, in this, and how it should be understood in this context.

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