This paper focuses on the learning that happens in everyday life, beyond the formal learning environments of schools, colleges, and universities or even beyond community and adult education. It draws on posthuman concepts of ‘learning affect’ and ‘new worlds’ to conceptualise this as ‘invisible education’, affective and transformative, unrecognised but powerful and formative. Such invisible education has a powerful impact on formations of gender, class, race, sexuality, and disability and is thus a key field of enquiry with important consequences for gender equality. The paper will draw on a diverse range of grant funded qualitative, research projects to focus on such invisible education and to explore how diverse iterations of the category ‘woman’ are learnt in everyday life. The research includes longitudinal research with activists, interviews with young women in low paid work, and interviews and participant observations with women living in a women’s refuge. Most of the research was undertaken in the UK, but the paper also draws on insights from comparative research conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Beirut. The paper concludes that everyday learning shows that ‘woman’ is not a fixed binary category, and that women drew on ‘the wilful’ and on invisible education to resist gendered categorisations.



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Publication Title

Studies in the Education of Adults



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Institute of Education