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“Inclusion” – what is it?

July 1, 2011

The word inclusion gets banded around with increasing regularity, with many companies now claiming to be “inclusive”.

But what does inclusion actually mean? How does it work? and how can we truly demonstrate inclusive practice?

Last Friday, Mari and myself (Michael) attended a PANDA workshop led by DIY Theatre Company. Using a number of drama games, we looked at and explored the questions raised above through words and body language (it’s a shame my camera ran out of memory the group came up with some excellent images and scenes!).

It’s interesting to see different people’s thoughts on what is meant by inclusion and what it means to them as individuals. I have always seen inclusion as a practice that creates a safe environment that allows for engagement, development, participation and self-expression.

Personally, I feel that there are drawbacks to using the term “inclusion”. However, with openness and understanding practices can be made fair and equal.

For Mari, “inclusion means that anyone and everyone can participate, no matter what their background or circumstance, that everyone has the opportunity to choose whether or not to take part, and that everyone is invited and is on an equal footing.”

The different ideas on inclusion that the group came up with – all of which are important and relevant when creating a practice that is inclusive to all – can be seen in the picture.

inclusion - words describing what inclusion means the them

Inclusion - words describing what inclusion means the them

Now, we would like to ask for your thoughts and opinions on the idea of inclusion. What do you think it means? How can we make it a practice that is always followed and not just something that is thought about when a need arises?

Responses can be as short or as long as you like and can be emailed to michael@fullcirclearts.co.uk

Mari has also asked the question What does inclusion mean to you?

Here are her Facebook responses

Inclusion - what does it mean to you?

 

And…

A little discussion between Ryan Miller (housemate) and herself:

My view of ‘inclusion’

Inclusion is one of these difficult…almost abstract…terms that always fails to fully adhere to its official definition for me. The process of inclusion makes me think equality and the active destruction of barriers that divide people through culture/gender/race/physical and mental ability etc. However, inclusion is different from inclusive, it’s almost like a capricious term that requires an instigator or controller, therefore limiting the inclusion process, making it almost exclusive depending on the controllers views on inclusion. But I’m thinking in a very binary way exclusion=inclusion…they’re on the same spectrum, just different ends, whilst exclusive -/- inclusive aren’t!!! Does this even make sense???

***

Makes sense to me. I find myself getting increasingly confused the more I think about it – it’s really not as simplistic as it sounds, and I don’t think there is just one definition for it.

It’s nice to get a non-museum view from you; Joanna and Leon, who have commented so far, are both Museum Studies course mates and seem to have a fairly museum-based take on what inclusion is.

I’m hoping for a good variety of opinions from a good variety of backgrounds. This is just a bit of research I’m doing for Full Circle Arts.

***

Exactly. I think it depends on what sense you use the word inclusion. If it is in regards to education then it is already a politically loaded term meaning “non-exclusive” (or…”panic, we don’t want to seem unfair to varying groups/minorities”) I think for myself, inclusion is almost a participating sport, if I want to be included I will make it my human-right to be able to participate and not wait for someone to make it possible (or at least look into all avenues of being able to be included). I understand that this isn’t always as straightforward as I make it, but there are many people who will wait for an invite or acceptance through inclusion rather than actively making change or including themselves. For example, US Army doesn’t permit gay people, but by adhering to rules of inclusion or exclusivity means that those gay people who want to join but the rules say it’s forbidden, will sit and wait for the rules to change until they become inclusive, whilst others will include themselves, for themselves.  Paralympic athletes are still excluded to an extent from the Olympics, they are within an exclusive competition, excluded from athletic competitions that won’t let them partake because of their ‘disability’, however, they are comfortable to be excluded to a rank of athlete that makes the competition equal. Or does it??? So is inclusion negative in this case and exclusion positive??

If you have a different opinion let us know by commenting below.

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