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Accepted paper:

Learning as relational process - the case of 'social navigating competency' in a global perspective


Iris Clemens

Paper long abstract:

Globally, humans today have to deal most probably more often with socially diverse situations, in which they are interwoven in different social figurations with diverse social actors, and they need to handle these situations in a for them appropriate and satisfying way. Social figurations as such have become most probably more diverse (also through the new media), and actors have to switch between diverse, sometimes even contradicting social contexts or networks. It is essential for them to find a suitable, satisfying embeddedness in theses networks, at least from time to time. I want to describe this mobility between social configurations as competency to navigate between diverse social networks, and I want to analyse it with reference to network theory. The social is dynamic, fluid. Actors try their best moving in it to produce at least occasional advantageous situations for themselves. But the others are busy with the same kind of struggles. This increases the uncertainty for all, and leads to an endless contingency. My assumption is that navigating between diverse social networks is needed today more and more as core competency worldwide. But like everything in life, this competency as to be learned. The question then is first, how the emergence of a navigational capacity take place, and second, how it can be supported. I propose the navigational capacity to be a basic condition for lifelong learning processes as well, and therefore as an important factor and competency to achieve a more or less successful educational and professional career (what does not necessarily mean employment!). In this perspective, it does not matter whether this career take place in the more formal or informal sector. It includes navigating in the formal educational sector and the employment sector as much as any other parts of social life, and is crucial in societies that are differently structured as well. This takes into account that careers and earning a livelihood in non-European-North-American contexts are not necessarily (or even mainly) tightly connected to formal sectors of education and employment. Therefore, I want to discuss similarities as well as differences in the emergence of the navigational competency in different social contexts such as Africa and Europe. It is important here to take into account basic differences in the organisation of societies such as the presence or absence of a social security net, an employment based economy etc.

panel D26
Multiplicity of learning events: the relationality of learning in Africa and beyond