Emergent Themes
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Emergent Themes: Organizing the Interview Data

As the seven introductory stories related in Everyday Lives indicate, several significant themes emerged from multiple readings of the interview transcripts and structured the data analysis and subsequent understandings of adult education decision-making obtained through this study.  These themes transcended both regional and individual differences and served as organizing principles for the analysis phase of the study. 

Generational differences 

Gender differences

Local economic context

       These three themes intersect in important ways that further complicate respondentsí stories.  For example, older men typically voiced different concerns about education and employment than older women.  While men worried about health issues related to physical labor and their declining ability to perform in the workplace as they aged, women often were concerned about extended family obligations that potentially included responsibilities for both grandchildren and ailing parents.  Economic pressures resulting in changing requirements for work have stranded many senior workers by eliminating their job security, regardless of whether or not they are still able to successfully do the work.  Other issues such as learning problems, childcare needs, and health concerns also affected the decisions respondents made about work and education.  These additional complexities are explored in later sections of the report.  The present section examines how these three primary organizing themes broadly structured the adult education needs and choices of study participants.

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Last modified: April 16, 2000