chapter  4
22 Pages

Towards the Good Society

Expanding Women’s Capabilities through Community Education and European Social Policy in Northern Ireland
BySusan Hodgett

This chapter considers life in Northern Ireland (NI) during the Troubles (BBC, 2017) and examines the positive role that community-based education played in improving the lives of women, an excluded social group. It does not discuss formal educational provisions provided by the state, rather, it provides incidences of innovative informal adult education in local communities, what Nita Freire, with reference to her husband Paulo’s oeuvre, described as ‘the act of seeking knowledge … reading the world, and of acting in it’ (as cited in Strajn, 2016). The following case study and its attendant theory of human development (the belief in enlarging peoples’ choices) sheds light upon policy interventions that increased women’s autonomy in disadvantaged communities in NI supported by an emergent European Union (EU) social policy near century’s end; a number of EU-funded community-based projects in high-conflict communities are considered. Given the United Kingdom’s (UK) 2016 decision to leave the EU, questions are raised concerning whether such experimental interventions will prove possible in future.