The question of what the research of lifelong education is all about needs to be revisited from time to time. Not only is this line of research approached from a multitude of academic disciplines – such as sociology, psychology or philosophy – the very concepts that are used to denote the field also undergo important changes over time, e.g. from lifelong education to lifelong learning. In this contribution, we will explore this rather elusive research territory using a large-scale text analysis of a specific scientific journal, International Journal of Lifelong Education, based on metadata (abstracts, keywords and titles) from 1,185 articles published between 1982 to 2021. Based on topic modelling techniques, we identify the main themes that have been prevalent within the journal, and how the journal’s content has changed character over time. We end the paper with a more critical examination of what kind of political and scientific currents might help explain what has led research practices to be more descriptive, micro-oriented and work-related over time.
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