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Repressive Tolerance and the Practice of Adult Education

, University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, MN, United States

IJAVET Volume 5, Number 2, ISSN 1947-8607 Publisher: IGI Global


Herbert Marcuse's concept of repressive tolerance argues that behind the justification of tolerance lies the possibility of ideological domination. Tolerance allows intolerable practices to go unchallenged and flattens discussion to assume all viewpoints have equal validity. When alternative, dissenting views are inserted into the curriculum dominant ideology means they are always positioned as the 'other' in relation to the mainstream. This article takes Marcuse's concept and applies it to a number of familiar adult educational practices and concerns. It considers how Marcuse's contrasting notion of liberating tolerance might be manifest in adult education.


Brookfield, S. (2014). Repressive Tolerance and the Practice of Adult Education. International Journal of Adult Vocational Education and Technology, 5(2), 15-28. IGI Global. Retrieved January 24, 2020 from .