Transformational learning in post-Soviet Ukraine
Lane, Penelope D.
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This qualitative case study explores learning in the personal transformation of women at the intersections of socio-cultural and economic changes in contemporary Ukraine. The study is driven by three research questions: 1) What cultural factors have contributed to or inhibited this process of transformational learning? 2) What learning has facilitated or inhibited personal transformation in the context of the informal economy? and 3) What is the relationship between individual and social change in the context of the informal economy and economic development processes? I used both Freirean social change theory and Mezirow’s theory of transformational learning to interpret the learning processes experienced by a women’s craft collective. A critical approach to understanding the informal economy and economic development foregrounded the importance of participatory, people-centered development processes. There are four significant conclusions. First, the transformative learning process does not require an individualized disorienting dilemma but may be triggered by widespread socio-cultural transitions. Evidence of this is supported by the interrelated nature of culture and learning illustrated in the transition from socialism to capitalism and in the changing socio-cultural context of contemporary Ukraine. Cultural influences have a highly significant impact on transformation and cannot be separated from the experience of learning. Second, this study provides empirical evidence that transformational learning is a holistic process that incorporates intuitive and affective ways of knowing. Developing entrepreneurial skills can be a process of transformative learning deeply influenced by the socio-cultural context of the informal economy. Third, reinventing the Freirean conscientization process in the context of Ukrainian transitional economy, it is evident that individuals must come to view themselves as fully active Subjects with a developed critical consciousness but more importantly, they must focus their consciousness on the social, historical, political and economic context with/in which their particular cultural milieu is constructed if they are to bring about significant social change at the national and global level. Fourth, I conclude that social change is a dialectical process centered in the relationships between individual and social transformation.