Social inclusion: Context, theory and practice

Gidley, J, Hampson, G, Wheeler, L and Bereded-Samuel, E 2010, 'Social inclusion: Context, theory and practice', The Australasian Journal of University-Community Engagement, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 6-36.

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

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Title Social inclusion: Context, theory and practice
Author(s) Gidley, J
Hampson, G
Wheeler, L
Bereded-Samuel, E
Year 2010
Journal name The Australasian Journal of University-Community Engagement
Volume number 5
Issue number 1
Start page 6
End page 36
Total pages 30
Publisher AUCEA
Abstract This paper reviews the literature on social inclusion in Australia and provides an overview of the current situation regarding university/community engagement. Social inclusion is a contested term in both academic and policy literature entailing a range of interpretations. The paper will argue that there is a spectrum of ideological positions underlying theory, policy and practice. The broad theoretical construct put forward regards social inclusion in relation to areas (who is to be included?) and degrees (ideologies) of inclusion. Possible areas of inclusion are socio‐economic status, culture (including indigenous cultures), linguistic group, religion, geography (rural and remote/isolated), gender, sexual orientation, age (including youth and old age), physical and mental health/ability, and status with regard to unemployment, homelessness and incarceration. Degree of inclusion comprises a nested threefold schema incorporating a spectrum of ideologies involving—from narrowest to most encompassing—the neoliberal focus on access and economic factors, the social justice focus on community participation and the human potential focus on personal and collective empowerment stemming from positive psychology and critical/transformative pedagogies. Contemporary Australian social inclusion policy is related to UK policy. While policy rhetoric indicates a broad interpretation of social inclusion, concerns are raised that a dominant Economicist agenda favours corporate and national economic interests over social and psychological ones. Questions are also raised about the privileging of some areas of inclusion over others and the possibility that reductive interpretations of social inclusion are forms of cultural assimilation. Social inclusion in practice is addressed both in relation to degrees of inclusion and through case studies. The paper provides an overview of examples of social inclusion interventions, including a review of two initiatives of RMIT University and Victoria University focussing on industry/community partnerships. The paper concludes with some challenges and issues for further research on social inclusion including a proposed in-depth survey and consideration of literature on integrative phenomena such as ecological sustainability, and contextualisation of social inclusion within broader movements of global socio‐cultural change.
Subject Sociology of Education
Keyword(s) community participation
community engagement
human potential
ideologies of inclusion
social justice
Copyright notice ©2010 The Australian University Community Engagement Alliance (AUCEA Inc.)
ISSN 18334482
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