Discourses of Inclusion: a critique

L. Dunne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


This article presents aspects of a study that drew on Foucault's notion of discourse as practice to critically consider prevailing discourses of inclusion in education. An aim was to take the seemingly self-evident object of inclusion and to interrogate and question it as a potentially normalising, hegemonic discourse and as a universalising concept. The study considered how the contemporary discourse(s) of inclusion is constructed and constituted in education, and critically explored its potential effects. A multi-method research approach was adopted to address the question: whose interests are served by the way that inclusion is spoken about and (re)presented in schools? A range of educationalists, including teachers, teaching assistants and lecturers engaged in professional development programmes, were invited to give their views and interpretation of 'inclusion' in written form, via an online discussion board facility or as a visual representation in the form of a drawing that was then discussed. The multi-textual responses were analysed and a critical reading of the data revealed various discourses that interacted and reverberated around the themes of 'policy', 'othering' and 'self'. The ramifications of these are discussed and it is suggested that newly emergent (entrepreneurial) discourses of 'self' are compatible with neo-liberal forms of governance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-56
JournalPower and Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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