The philosophy and politics of learner autonomy

Phil Benson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter explains the links between theories of knowledge, approaches to learning and versions of autonomy it may be able to arrive at a better understanding of the ways in which learner autonomy for language learning has developed. It discusses each of the approaches in turn, first in relation to theories of knowledge and learning, and secondly in relation to language and language learning. This chapter also explains how the different versions of autonomy have arisen and what their political implications are. The last part of the chapter outlines what a more political concept of autonomy might mean in practice. It is in this sense that an understanding of relationships between theories of knowledge, philosophies of learning and versions of autonomy can play an important role in determining our own approach as teachers to the issue of autonomy in our own work. The chapter conclude by summarizing how each of the approaches connects up with the issue of learner autonomy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAutonomy and independence in language learning
EditorsPhil Benson, Peter Voller
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781317888086
ISBN (Print)9781138152410, 9780582289925
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameApplied linguistics and language study

Bibliographical note

First Published 1997 by Longman; eBook Published: 6 June 2014 by Taylor and Francis; hardback published 2016 by Routledge


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