In order to critique the notion of ‘learner voice’ in vocational education and training (VET) policy, this paper draws from a project conducted by the authors on behalf of the Australian National VET Equity Advisory Council (NVEAC). The term ‘learner voice’ is used extensively throughout NVEAC documentation to describe the engagement of ‘disadvantaged’ students within the VET system. However, the concept of ‘voice’ being advocated, we argue, is a particularly ‘thin’ one which is linked to notions of client feedback, managed participation and the commodification of training rather than any broad sense of democracy, equity or social transformation. The paper critically examines current practices in relation to learner voice within the VET policy framework and their implications for the contested role of VET in contributing to social equity and redress of social and economic disadvantage.
The article begins by outlining the philosophic anthropology that Marx derived from his reading of Hegel. We continue by arguing that this formed the basis of his materialist conception of history and his analysis of the political economy of the capitalist mode of production, with particular reference being made to Marx’s theory of value and his account of the economic contradictions of the capitalist system. We then discuss his views on the nature of post-capitalist society, concluding with a critical but broadly positive account of the relevance of his ideas to modern capitalism. Marx, we suggest, should not be regarded as a purely 19th-century thinker, as some recent biographers have maintained.