Annalisa Sannino

Beyond inclusion? Enabling and constraining motives in transformative agency processes

Inclusion has become a fashionable term to display political correctness. Its widespread and often instrumental use might be discouraging rather than supporting collective transformative agency in the broad domains of activities pertaining to special education and social pedagogy. This keynote addresses the Vygotskian concept of secondary deficit and the activity-theoretical concepts of transformative agency and motives to argue that the term inclusion cannot be appropriately used for largely isolated initiatives and procedures. This is because the term itself implies a comprehensive approach, requiring us to argue who are to be included into what and why. Although isolated initiatives and procedures can also be beneficial in specific cases, within a broad perspective they usually have impact primarily in terms of sensitizing the civil society to avoid the dominant tendencies of pitying vulnerabilities or condemning differences. The potential of "the politics of inclusion" lies in two interconnected pursuits. The first one pertains to the creation of specific pathways for the representatives of the target groups of these politics to gain access to services and get involved in meaningful activities to address, if not overcome, their condition of vulnerability. The second pursuit pertains to the development of cross-sectoral and cross-hierarchical coalitions which would ensure smooth functioning of the pathways, without obstructions and representatives of the target groups falling into inter-institutional cracks. The latter is the most complex challenge to the realization of inclusion and might be part of the reason why the utility and effectiveness of practices and notions of inclusion are being increasingly questioned.