Young people’s preferences for social interaction in terms of homophily and social inclusion: a critical discussion about respect
European Journal of Special Needs Education
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
© 2014 Taylor & Francis
This paper reports findings from a study about young people’s preferences for social interaction with similar and different others, in terms of a tension between social inclusion and homophily – the concept that similarity breeds connection. The issue was explored empirically using moral dilemmas scenarios to conduct in-depth semi-structured interviews with young people with Asperger syndrome, visual impairment and without disabilities. The data indicates that homophily and inclusion can come into a tension with an ethical dimension, since they represent, respectively, a personal preference to be among similar others and the moral imperative of including all people. The paper argues that this tension is constructive as it can challenge our understanding of what the ethical obligation to inclusion entails, and what treating the students respectfully means. Respect is often seen as an attempt to avoid the humiliation that any kind of recognition of difference can bring, and has tended to be translated into a demand for inclusion for all. However, the recognition of difference is an acknowledgement of young people’s right to make their own decisions, and can be reflected in provision and translated into educational and life opportunities; as such, it is also an expression of respect. Negotiating a way between the two understandings through dialogue can ensure that inclusion would be a shared value.
I would like to express my gratitude to Professor Brahm Norwich for his warm support and guidance, and the State Scholarship Foundation of Greece for funding this project.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 29 (4), pp. 521 - 535