Inclusion: cultures and discourses

Paliokosta, Panagiota (2010) Inclusion: cultures and discourses. In: 3rd Erasmus Mundus Special Education Needs International Conference (EMSENIC) - Towards inclusion: being with others; 24 -25 June 2010, Roehampton, U.K.. (Unpublished)


The development of varied discourses on inclusion/exclusion will be discussed in the context of data stemming from three diverse school contexts in the south-east of England that theoretically followed the same top-down government agendas. Discourses were found in practices and narratives, which were dependent on the affordances and needs of each setting. Despite the differences established in the three contexts, common elements will be discussed, such as the struggle of institutions to act outside a normalization stance and to deal with the imposition of dominant cultures, initiatives and stresses, which accompany the raising standards and accountability agenda. Data from these case studies will illustrate how seeing inclusion as a policy initiative rather than an ideology, culture, shared value and belief can make its realization a strenuous exercise. The notion of ideology will be examined through the lenses of a specific set of symbolic representations, in terms of discourses used by specific actors and agents for specific purposes (Blommaert, 2005) but also as a ‘cultural’, ideational aspect of a particular social and political system that characterises its existence, structure and historical development (Gramsci, 1971). The implications for teacher initial and professional education are posited; it is suggested that inclusion can work by removing the diagnostic paradigm and by creating a framework for teachers' lifelong learning focusing on a social justice oriented pedagogy that will empower teachers conceptually and practically.

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