Inclusion and homophily: an argument about participatory decision-making and democratic school management
British Journal of Educational Studies
Taylor & Francis (Routledge) / Society for Educational Studies (SES)
© 2014 Society for Educational Studies
This paper reports findings from a study about school staff’s perceptions of the preferences for social interaction that young people have with similar and different others. This tension was explored empirically using scenarios of moral dilemmas to conduct in-depth semi-structured interviews with school staff from special and mainstream secondary schools. The issue was explored with reference to a tension between social inclusion, the principle of embracing difference, and homophily, the concept that similarity breeds connection. The data suggest that homophily and inclusion can come into a tension with an ethical dimension. In education, the homophily/inclusion tension is one between students’ preferences for being among similar others and the moral imperative of including everybody; or between individuality and commonality. Inclusion is often translated into a demand for full participation as the only way to respond ethically to difference. However, the recognition of students’ rights to negotiate their preferences, even when they come into tension with what is considered to be politically correct, is also an ethical position. The paper concludes that the homophily/inclusion tension is constructive as it challenges the moral necessity of inclusion for all, and opens a debate about participatory decision-making and democratic school management.
The author wishes to thank Professor Brahm Norwich and Dr Shirley Larkin for their guidance and support, and the State Scholarship Foundation of Greece for funding the project.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 62 (4), pp. 413 - 430