In this project, we analyse how the ideals of capable citizen are negotiated in formal and informal educational contexts and how these ideals are related to the politics of belonging, which refers to constructions of boundaries and inclusion and exclusion of particular people, social categories and groupings. The project, which consists of four sub-studies connected by a solid theoretical framework, will be conducted within ‘Nordic Centre of Excellence Justice through Education in Nordic Countries’.
The theoretical background is drawn from critical disability studies, where the concept of disability is understood as a socially and culturally constructed phenomenon. Recent developments in the field of disability studies point out that the definitions of citizenship are saturated with the ideas of competences and abilities, which exclude particular individuals or groups from full citizenship. Therefore the objective of the project is to explore how the politics of belonging intertwines with dominant ideals of citizenship in institutional and informal educational contexts. Four main questions (RQ) are following: RQ1: How are the dominant cultural ideals of citizenship used to legitimize distinctions in educational practices based on individuals’ abilities? RQ2: How is the category of able-bodiedness produced and reproduced through language and cultural practices? RQ3: How are the different social and cultural factors, such as ethnicity and disability co-constructed in various institutional educational contexts and how do they relate to the constructions of learner subjectivities? RQ4: How is citizenship constructed in the Nordic disability discourses? Theoretical objective of the project is a suggestion for a more inclusive concept of citizenship.
Main methods in the project are multi-sited ethnography among children and young people with learning disabilities, and life historical interviews with young adults, who have studied in special education. The life historical data has been generated as a part of the earlier project called ‘Equality is Priority 2’ (2009-2010).