The aim of this paper is to explore the historical representations of adulthood, citizenship and the ideal social bonds of an individual and the society in the transforming moral orders of Finnish adult education. The research is based on a thematic reading of data, which consist of texts written during the past 150 years by theorists of adult education. In regard to the outcome of the analysis, it can be claimed that the definitions and relations, which define adult education / lifelong learning, adult individuals, citizenship and the society, are in perpetual motion transforming from spiritual determination to material determination and back. As a conclusion, we claim that adult education / lifelong learning is a morally regulated field of study, where morality is adapted to any social changes at any given time, marginalising social groups on moral grounds; from lack of spiritual aspirations to lack of employability skills and with a wrong attitude towards the ideals of neo-liberal economics in present-day society. The main result of our analysis is to address the importance of understanding the main logics of historical change in adult education. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
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