Language, power, and the construction of adult education programs

E. Frances Rees, Ronald M. Cervero, Lioba Moshi, Arthur L. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


To explain the exercise of power through the use of language and its effects on power relations and program construction, verbal interaction between three planners in two program planning meetings was analyzed. The study revealed that political relationships enacted through the use of language situated crucial planning action. Specifically, learning objectives and adult education tenets as well as ethical imperatives took shape within a socio-political context constituted by the planners' "talk." For this reason, the negotiation of power and interests was a central feature of the planning process. It can be concluded, therefore, that program construction is contingent upon communicative action. One of the implications of the study is that responsible planners must not only be aware of many levels of meaning in discourse but must also know how to use language skillfully and politically to exercise the full extent of their agency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-77
Number of pages15
JournalAdult Education Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997


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