04 SES 17 C, Doing Inclusive Educational Research in the Tensional Field of Inclusion and Exclusion
In most German speaking countries, inclusive education has become a very relevant topic in educational research in the past few years. Discourses around the ratification processes of the UN-CRPD have propelled the recognition of inclusion as an important issue across educational disciplines. Being considered as a ‘side issue’ for the most time to be handled by a small group of scholars, research on inclusive education has made it into the ‘mainstream’ of educational research. These developments are important, as they foster the discussion and transformation of structures and practices that impede inclusion.
However, due to several reasons, research on inclusive education is facing a number of challenges relating to the understanding of inclusion – and, as we argue – not only in German speaking countries. First of all, this strand of research has to deal with an uncertain understanding of what exactly is meant by inclusion as the UN-CRPD is lacking a scientifically reliable definition. Even though researchers of inclusive education are asked to promote a normative idea among educational discourses and educational politics for which inclusive education is a new topic; something that similarly occurs in teaching. Taking a look at contemporary, German speaking literature on inclusive education, the normative perspective is dominating. Contradictory aspects like the exclusive structure of the school systems are hardly mentioned. This supports the illusion (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1971) that it is only the teachers’ responsibility to make inclusive education work.
The symposium wants to problematize this understanding of inclusive education along a social scientific approach and investigate the constructions of inclusion that are underlying selective perspectives on inclusive education and raise the question of the potentials of considering the context of educational processes as being inclusive and exclusive at the same time. The ideas of Niklas Luhmann, who strengthens an understanding of inclusion and exclusion being two sides of the same coin and distinguishes different observing perspectives (Luhmann, 2002) serves as a reference for the analysis.
Thus, as we argue in our papers, research on inclusive education needs to respond to such a tensional and dialectical relationship of inclusion and exclusion. This perspective influences not only the understanding of the topic, but also the choice of the methodological framework and the methods worked with in empirical studies.
In relation to these considerations, our symposium aims to reflect how inclusion and exclusion are constructed in educational research on inclusive education. The first paper will introduce the analytical considerations outlined along examples from contemporary research in the German speaking countries. Two other papers will present two projects with a focus on how they handle and reflect the ambivalence of inclusion and exclusion.
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