D.W. Livingstone 

Canada Research Chair in Lifelong Learning and Work

Tier 1—2003-10-01

University of Toronto

Social Sciences and Humanities








Research Involves

Deepening understanding of the relations between learning and work, with particular attention to previously marginalized aspects of informal learning and unpaid work, as well as focus on people whose learning and work capabilities have been ignored or devalued.


Research Relevance

These studies can sensitize citizens and policy makers to actual learning achievements and encourage more concerted efforts to reform work to enable more effective use of learning capacities.


More Effective Use of Workers’ Knowledge

There are three distinctive strands in this body of research: studies of the correspondence between educational attainments and job requirements; studies of the general learning and work practices of large populations; and studies of inequitable access to learning opportunities.


Livingstone is a leading contributor to studies of underemployment. He has synthesized the prior research in the field, identified major time-based and knowledge-based dimensions of underemployment and conducted several original surveys and case studies to determine the scope of the problem and recent trends. This multi-dimensional framework is widely used as a guide in studying relations between education and job requirements. His most recent book documenting the growing scope of the problem is Education and Jobs: Exploring the Gaps (University of Toronto Press, 2009).


Livingstone has built on adult educators’ studies of self-directed informal learning and feminist scholars’ analyses of domestic labour to develop a more inclusive conceptual framework for studies of learning and work. This framework encompasses formal schooling, further adult education, informal training by mentors and self-taught informal learning, as well as paid employment, unpaid housework and volunteer community work. This framework has guided the empirical research conducted under a series of SSHRC research networks and the CRC. This research represents the most extensive national surveys of work and learning practices ever done. These surveys have confirmed that intentional informal learning is much more widespread than formal learning and is pursued actively throughout the life course. Many related case studies have probed previously unexamined aspects of unpaid work and learning. The most recent general overview of this research is Lifelong Learning in Paid and Unpaid Work   (Routledge, 2010). Many of the specific studies are available on the website of the SSHRC network on the Changing Nature of Work and Lifelong Learning (WALL) (see www.wallnetwork.ca).


Livingstone’s most sustained contributions to knowledge have been in the area of social class and learning. His inquiries are typically sensitive to distinctions between social classes (based on ownership of business property, managerial authority and specialized academic knowledge or absence of these features) and the effects of these distinctions on academic success, transitions from school to employment, workplace participation and political attitudes. Class effects have been traced through studies on educational policy preferences and images of the educational future, the streaming of children by class of origin in public schooling and under-representation in post-secondary education, and inquiries examining general class differences in work and learning practices. This corpus of research is one of the most extensive bodies of knowledge in the world on relations of social class position and learning practices and offers an invaluable resource for continuing studies on the subject. A representative publication is The Education-Jobs Gap (Garamond Press, 2004).


In his CRC, Professor Livingstone has become a world leader in studies of learning and work. His studies of underemployment have been exceptional in both their synthetic scope and conceptual originality. His leadership in research exploring unpaid work and informal learning is serving to reshape the field of studies of learning and work.

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