Social inclusion and ‘society as a whole’

I have read Paul Smyth’s booklet In or Out? Building an Inclusive Nation (2010).

It is a nice, short, easy to read political history of Australia’s use and issues with the notion of ‘social inclusion’. He briefly brings in Saunders’ ‘poverty war’ and tours through some recent State and Federal government choices about department names and holds up the white paper on homelessness as the most substantial use of ‘social inclusion’ on a federal level. A lot is left out, but he provides enough background to make his argument. I particularly like this passage.

“The same reflection (that the term ‘social inclusion’ can have ‘mixed political messages’) could also be made on the recently announced aim of the federal, state and territory governments to develop a Social Inclusion Action Plan. It simply has an issues list: ‘children at risk, disengaged young people, jobless families and locational disadvantage’. In the light of the UK experience, we need to know much more about the principles shaping the approach: are we looking at a liberal model of policy making for the ‘underclass’, or, a social democratic approach based on ‘society as a whole’?” (Smyth 2010: 22-23)

As tends to come through in my posts, when I read one thing I start thinking about tangential topics. This passage brought to mind my earlier reading and then putting aside of work on ‘subcultures’ and then my supervisor’s use of that term (and my unease by her choice of that term) in my last meeting with her. Subcultures in the cultural studies sense of the word seem to have an element of choosing to belong elsewhere. For me, Tanya Lurhman’s book, Persuasions of the witch’s craft : ritual magic and witchcraft in present-day England also comes to mind when the term ‘subculture’ is used.

It is not hard to see why social exclusion would be rather different to a subculture of identification. Social exclusion is defined in negative terms- as the lack of belonging/ inclusion.


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