Thursday, 7 February 2013

Some definitions

Equality of opportunity and equality of outcome

Equal opportunity describes the intention to create a social environment in which people are not excluded from the activities of society on the basis of physical characteristics e.g. sex or cultural roles e.g. those assigned along gender lines.  We can see how over time many activities have become open to both men and women e.g. primary school teaching, engineering, football and domestic chores.  

It is difficult to measure the success of equal opportunity policies. Opportunity itself is difficult to accurately measure. In practice, equal opportunity is said to exist when people with similar abilities reach similar results (equality of outcome) after doing a similar amount of work. Equal opportunity and equality of outcome are therefore seen as complementary. 


Inclusion and exclusion (or social exclusion) were terms which became used in Government in the late 1990s. The Government defined social exclusion as

a shorthand term for what can happen when people or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime, bad health and family breakdown.’

However, this definition tells us more about how it has come about rather than what it is.  Another definition provides further detail of what social exclusion actually is.

“An inability (of individuals) to participate effectively in economic, social, political and cultural life.” 

These four dimensions of exclusion can be further explained

Economically – cannot afford a decent standard of living: Unable to afford enough, or good enough quality, housing, food, clothes, heating and other things that make up a decent standard of living.

Socially – socially isolated, abused or live in fear: Have few friends, family or neighbours that can be called on for help, may be physically or sexually abused, harassed outside of the home, live in fear of being burgled or their children getting involved with drugs or crime.

Politically – cannot have their voice heard and lack influence: Do not know how to get their voice heard, are not taken seriously by political parties, powerful pressure groups or service providers.

Culturally – are not valued: Get discriminated against or harassed because of their disability, race, religious beliefs, social customs, language, sexuality, age, etc.


Inclusion in the world of special needs

I came across the term inclusion in the early nineties when working in social care> I read about it in papers about people with learning disabilities and their education. Inclusion was described as being a completely different concept (and reality) than the term integration.

Integration suggests that there is a norm and those who do not fit into this must in some way adapt. Inclusion suggests that it is the system which must adapt rather than the individual. One document puts it like this

Integration vs Inclusion

Needs of “special students”
Rights of ALL students
Changing/remedying the subject
Changing the school
Benefits to the student with “special needs”
Benefits ALL students
Professionals, specialist expertise, and formal support
Informal support and the expertise of mainstream teachers
Conclusion: inclusion = good teaching for ALL

Inclusive faith communities

Therefore inclusive faith communities strive to be the sum of their parts and then some. But first we do have to have a sense of what those parts are. We have to udnerstand what stops people feeling fully included.

This posting may not have cast much light on the situation - my apologies - but equalities and inclusion are not easy concepts to fully understand. Happy for others to add more clarity.


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