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This project reflects on the way in which students in a situation of social risk construct their identity. Based on the reflections and theories originating from research conducted on individuals and collective groups in a situation of social exclusion due to disability, social class or ethnicity, this paper will analyse the conflicts these students have to deal with when constructing their identity. It also examines the challenge that education has to face to turn those conflicts into opportunities that will help to build life projects with which they can freely identify. For this reason, from a critical perspective, the school’s role in constructing identity will be analysed, as will the way in which it affects children and adolescents from minority groups. In the same way, we will study and put forward some different channels aimed at providing more equal educational attention to those identities that are depreciated in neoliberal society.
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Educational Philosophy and Theory
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ISSN: 0013-1857 (Print) 1469-5812 (Online) Journal homepage:
Disadvantaged Identities: Conflict and Education
from Disability, Culture and Social Class
Ignacio Calderón-Almendros & Cristóbal Ruiz-Román
To cite this article: Ignacio Calderón-Almendros & Cristóbal Ruiz-Román (2015): Disadvantaged
Identities: Conflict and Education from Disability, Culture and Social Class, Educational
Philosophy and Theory, DOI: 10.1080/00131857.2015.1118613
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Published online: 17 Dec 2015.
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Disadvantaged Identities: Conflict and
Education from Disability, Culture and
Social Class
Department of Theory and History of Education, University of Malaga
This project reflects on the way in which students in a situation of social risk construct their
identity. Based on the reflections and theories originating from research conducted on individ-
uals and collective groups in a situation of social exclusion due to disability, social class or
ethnicity, this paper will analyse the conflicts these students have to deal with when construct-
ing their identity. It also examines the challenge that education has to face to turn those con-
flicts into opportunities that will help to build life projects with which they can freely identify.
For this reason, from a critical perspective, the school’s role in constructing identity will be
analysed, as will the way in which it affects children and adolescents from minority groups.
In the same way, we will study and put forward some different channels aimed at providing
more equal educational attention to those identities that are depreciated in neoliberal society.
Keywords: identity, inequality, inclusive education, education policy
Identity gives individuals and collective groups their sense of meaning and forms the
way in which they see themselves and are seen by others. The sources of meaning
which make up identity are currently being constructed from starting positions of
inequality. Some individuals and groups find it very difficult to develop a life project
in which they are happily identified: one of the things which disabled people, groups
who find themselves in poverty and people from minority cultures have in common
is, among others, the fact that they are persistently discriminated against and excluded
from learning, from participating in society and, more specifically, from being
involved at school. In other words, they are victims of social inequality (Fraser-
Burgess, 2012). They systematically fail at school, suffer from high rates of unemploy-
ment and can only access the most precarious, poorly paid jobs. All of the groups are
different, although they share one common link: the delicate relationship existing
Ó2015 Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia
Educational Philosophy and Theory, 2015
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between society as a whole and the people who belong to each of these groups. It is
this unfair, discriminatory relationship which prompted us to carry out this analysis
with special reference to disability studies:
Rigorous interpretation of the true connections existing between, for exam-
ple, class, race, gender, sexuality, age and disability, is an area of research
which has received little attention within the sphere of studies on disability.
Studies on disability continue to explore questions of equality, social justice,
exclusion, citizenship and inclusion, i.e. factors which go beyond the issue
of disability. (Barton, 2009, p. 150)
Moreover, there is, in our opinion, a remarkable precedent in sociology: Goffman
(1963) based his formidable—and broadly questioned—essay about people from vari-
ous disadvantaged groups on a comprehensive approach to the construction of the
personal and social identity of stigmatised individuals. Through his poetic philosophy,
Novalis (1977) also expressed discomfort about hegemony, which felt foreign to him
(day, light, logic) and turned this discomfort (concern, restlessness) into a vital
momentum to open up to other interpretations, other worlds (night, darkness,
However, social sciences have dedicated very little effort to including disabled per-
sons within the overriding interpretive approaches which these sciences have gener-
ated. To some extent, they have assumed that the reality for disabled persons is
radically different to that of other excluded groups. It is therefore common to see race
or gender form part of general theories on the sociology of education (functionalism,
structuralism, cultural reproduction, resistance, etc), whilst disability is seldom dealt
with. This is particularly notable when dealing with cognitive impairment.
Introducing the reality of persons with disability in more general analysis and inter-
pretation systems involves restoring an academic sphere from which they have histori-
cally been excluded. It means legitimately including differentiated realities which are
denied in usual scientific discourse, whilst creating the possibility for disabled persons
to modify and improve them. Since the approach taken with regards to disability has
been basically to focus on the individual’s deficiencies, it is now necessary to broaden
our horizon. This new approach should take into account processes which go beyond
disability, beyond what we are accustomed to seeing, and which are based on social
inequality and processes of social exclusion. In this regard, particularly worthy of note
in Spain are the works of Susinos and Parrilla (2008), Morin
´ez (2010), Escudero
(2005), Echeita and Domı
´nguez (2011) and Ruiz-Roma
´n, Caldero
´n-Almendros, and
´rez (in press).
Taking these ideas as our starting point, this work aims to approach the ways in
which identities are constructed, from an interpretative-critical perspective, and plac-
ing special emphasis on the role of education in this process. School is undoubtedly a
fundamental setting from which identity is built in the early stages of a person’s edu-
cation. However, the school institution is an area of conflict in which meanings and
identities are ‘negotiated’ from a situation of unequal relations. We will endeavour to
analyse the strategies that students who belong to minority collectives use to construct
their identity, as well as how schools are working with these disadvantaged groups.
2Ignacio Caldero
´n-Almendros & Cristo
´bal Ruiz-Roma
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We will conclude with some thoughts about the challenges facing education in
promoting the construction of minority identities in the context of globalisation,
which at this moment in time is far from being equal and fair.
Current State of the Matter and Existing Problems: Constructing Identity in
the Margins
Understanding that identity, whether collective or individual, is a mediation of
culture, taken as a network of meanings that are gradually constructed and shared,
(Bruner, 1996; Geertz, 1973; Mead, 1930) requires us to refer to the subject of peo-
ple being conditioned by culture and vice versa. Culture is impersonal and too broad
to be able to define the lifestyles, the ways of understanding the world, and relations,
particularly in the globalised world. This is why social groups and individuals need to
find their place in a culture, select it, implement it and give it shape, through individ-
ual or collective identity. As we will see, human beings adopt different ways of dealing
with this task that make it easier to find our position, regarding the broadest cultural
guidelines, but at the same time, they represent actions and reactions conditioned by
political, ideological, philosophical, anthropological, biological, moral, affective and
linguistic forces, among others, that dominate the groups that adopt those identities
or that have emerged from their formation as a collective.
People position themselves within these collectives, and they generally form part of
more than one. The collectives supply each subject with content that will, informally
and barely consciously, shape and socialise their personality. With this mechanism,
the collectives teach and reproduce the meanings, values and standards that are their
own and that give them meaning, perpetuating their own socialising structure.
Collectives and communities, through power and symbolic control over reality
(Bernstein, 1996; Peters & Besley, 2014), endeavour to impose certain interpretations
on others, and on this line, they proclaim a collective identity they agree with as legiti-
mate: the legitimating identity (Castells, 1997). The legitimacy of ideas and actions is
particularly influenced by the opinions of those groups in positions of power to produce
meanings. Obviously the influence held by major business men and women and the
highest social strata is a long way from the influence held by more humble social
groups. Although it is true that both groups produce meaning, their respective influence
is not the same; in the end, the lower social classes are influenced by the patterns set by
those occupying the upper echelons of the social scale, but the latter do not feel the
need to know about the models created by the bases of society. As Hargreaves (2004)
and Bourdieu (1979) uphold, in the end the higher social classes are the ones who set
the criteria. For all these reasons, we should really call this hegemonic production.
The concept of normality is generated through this process, where those people
who construct their identity against the hegemonic ideal are labelled as misfits, out-
side of the group or what is considered to be normal. In the educational context, a
series of concepts and categories constructed around hegemony and normality—im-
plemented through a specific type of psychological and pedagogical counselling—can
be identified which place certain individuals on the outside: disabled children, chil-
dren with learning disabilities, at-risk children. This situation is currently becoming
Disadvantaged Identities 3
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aggravated, as noted by Slee (2015), and is colonising the field of behavioural disor-
ders. Graham and Slee (2008) and Caldero
´n-Almendros and Ruiz-Roma
following on from Foucault, warn that in this process of individuation schooling oper-
ates as a field for the application of disciplinary power and control. The normative
domains act as comparative grids of intelligibility that are not only constitutive of
exteriority but protective of the centre from which they emanate.
We have a clear example of this in the field of education. In effect, the school cur-
riculum implicitly conveys certain ideas, values and concepts that generally belong to
the ruling collectives, whether as a result of disability (Barton, 1996,2009; Caldero
Almendros, 2014; Caldero
´n-Almendros & Habegger, in press; Caldero
´n-Almendros &
´n, 2015; Graham & Slee, 2008; Oliver, 1990), gender (Arnot, 2008;
´nez, 2007), nationality (Arber, 2005; Esteve, Ruiz-Roma
´n, & Rasco
´n, 2008;
Torres, 2008; Van Dijk, 2007) or social class (Apple, 2004,2005; Bernstein, 1996;
´n-Almendros, 2011,2015; Olmedo, 2007; Willis, 1981). So, excluding the
values and meanings of minority cultures, of the popular classes, other cultural values
are silenced at school.
Different authors (Althusser, 1971; Baudelot & Establet, 1971; Bernstein, 1971,
1996; Bourdieu & Passeron, 1977; Bowles & Gintis, 1976) have argued that this
biased and hegemonic curriculum is, in effect, serving to legitimate and promote cer-
tain identities and collectives, to persuade and standardise others (Foucault, 2002),
and to exclude or cast aside others. Indeed, students who, due to their family, social,
economic and cultural background, are closer to the school culture that the dominant
groups have selected and legitimated, have greater possibilities of passing the selection
processes through learning (or not) such skills and knowledge. In this way, a school
with this cultural bias runs the risk of promoting students who come from a
medium-high socio-family context, and neglect students coming from marginal
cultural contexts.
All this develops through complex and subtle processes of legitimation and appro-
priation of people and groups. In this way, through the legitimating identity, an
exchange takes place whether to include people within a given collective or not.
Through this transaction, the legitimating identity urges people to accept and inter-
nalise the meanings of the cultural community as the most viable option, and one that
can best guarantee their integration and development in that community. The poten-
tial of the norm is precisely how the collective appropriates it, and how it ends up
being understood as something that has been created by the group, removing any ties
with the pressure brought to bear from the upper echelons.
All this means that constructing personal identity through an adaptation to social
norms is, on one hand, logical, insofar as the inertia of socialisation places us on the
hegemonic coordinates that the powers above promote; and on the other hand it is
comfortable, insofar as it does not pose any opposition to the generically shared stan-
dards. So, the construction of individual identity through adaptation would be the
means of developing by adhering to the hegemonic cultural project.
However, adapting to the legitimated ideal does not mean it is the best, most edu-
cational or most profitable option. Living in accordance with established ideals
undoubtedly offers certain guarantees regarding social and emotional stability, but
4Ignacio Caldero
´n-Almendros & Cristo
´bal Ruiz-Roma
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that socialisation can be detrimental if it hinders more educational learning processes,
in which people construct and acquire the meanings with which they wish to identify
themselves on a more autonomous basis, away from social pressure. Furthermore,
unconscious and conditioned attachment to the legitimating collective identity can be
particularly detrimental in those cases where the individuals are coming from the
worst social positions, bearing little or no privileges whatsoever. It is easy to under-
stand how a child from a humble background will not gain the same by adapting to
school norms as a child from a high-class background, for example, as the former has
a much higher probability of failing at school (Calero, 2008). Therefore, when adapt-
ing to the school system, both would gain essentially different things, given that each
one would be endorsing the continuity of their respective situations, which are clearly
unequal from the very start. In this sense, adopting this channel to construct identity
means (particularly in the second case) its foreclosure.
However, as people we always have the capacity to distinguish what the different
groups are offering us, and to position ourselves accordingly. This does not mean
that, as we have already seen, the legitimated social forces and groups do not exert
pressure that conditions our ways of thinking and acting (sometimes so much so that
we find it hard to shake off), but rather that we always have the last word. Human
beings always live in the hope that we can take on the ruling forces that put pressure
on us, even though we are not entirely conscious of their existence or of whether our
means to deal with them are a genuine stance against those ruling guidelines.
The fact is that, just as identity can be formed from the attachment to the meanings
of a cultural community, so it can be formed from the confrontation with or resis-
tance to the meanings of cultural communities. The resistance identity is ‘produced by
those actors who are in a position/conditions of being devalued and/or stigmatised by
the logic of domination, so they build trenches of resistance and survival, based on
different or opposing principles to those that fill society’s institutions’ (Castells, 1997,
p. 30). The attachment, in this case, is to a set of meanings that are often stigmatised,
and in general, devalued by the hegemonic culture, community or society.
The construction of identity through resistance occupies an important place in the
formation of groups and in people’s individual development, as resistance identity
gives meaning to people’s existence by confronting the hegemonic culture. Moreover,
this process can be a place of resistance with meanings to share among those people
who find themselves in the same situation of opposition to, or exclusion from, the
hegemonic group. So the new cultural contexts that Castells talked about are built.
The exchange and sharing of experiences, feelings, knowledge and actions, and so
forth, all make these spaces new environments of collective resistance, which in turn
will represent a new field of personal identity construction.
As we have said previously, resistance is the way through which a person can rebel
against socialisation, and this can be motivated by a variety of reasons. In the same
way as adaptation can simply be accepted as a given option, as a resignation to the
ruling ideologies, or as a subconscious affiliation, in the case of resistance it does not
always have the same connotations. The most extreme case (and the most illustrative)
distinguishes between the two main resistance models. We are referring to the posi-
tion held with regard to the idea of necessity.
Disadvantaged Identities 5
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We can go to any city and find people and groups still living under pressure of the
urgency of their situations, troubled by the harsh reality of their needs, whether for
purely biological subsistence (made worse in times of crisis), or for sociocultural sur-
vival. For this reason, necessity marks the two clearest positions within the resistance
identity: on one hand, we would have people and groups who, having overcome the
state of need, are politically aware and object to the hegemonic cultural project. On
the other hand, we would find people and groups who, oppressed by the situations
the ruling social project subjects them to, find themselves forced in some way to
object to what is coming their way.
We have already seen that there are two channels for individual identity construc-
tion with regard to two means of collective identity: the first, adaptation, is a form of
attachment to the socially and politically legitimated option, whereas the second,
resistance, is an excluded option from the start, insofar as it is always anti-hegemonic.
The first option has the social and historical advantage, while the second needs large
doses of strength, seeing as it is swimming against the tide.
Willis (1981) argued how cultures of resistance are also created among students in
the school context. It is hardly surprising that many school conflicts arise when the
cultures of students coming from underprivileged collectives come face to face with
the academic culture of the school, with the former emerging as dominated cultures.
Kids coming from these underprivileged collectives are reluctant to take on the cul-
ture that the school institution legitimates (Caldero
´n-Almendros, 2011). This culture
does not connect with their everyday needs and possibilities. That is why many chil-
dren from underprivileged classes show their disregard and rejection of the project
that the school institution offers them. Some of these children can spend 12 years at
school and still not be able to read or write properly. They only learn the things that
they feel are useful according to their status as the exploited ones. How could they
possibly be interested in fractions, from their point of view? Without meaning to, they
shield themselves from certain areas that they see as useless and onerous, using a
simple denial mechanism (Martı
´nez-Reguera, 1999).
So when the kids feel that attempts are being made to standardise them with things
that they cannot and do not know how to assimilate, they react with rejection beha-
viour, reasserting themselves in the cultural patterns that they know and control. In
this way, they strengthen their own culture that has been developed in their disadvan-
taged contexts of origin and which are heavily influenced by the values of the social
culture around them; consequently there are significant doses of authoritarianism, sex-
ism, violence, etc., as a means to compensate for their position of weakness in the
academic field. These kids, resisting the academic culture, actively (not passively, as
the reproduction theorists would say) reproduce their culture. However, the produc-
tion of their resistance culture does not bring about change or progressive effects on
the social structure, thus assisting its reproduction. That is to say, these resistance
identities lack power and competence to become consciously designed and coherently
assumed identities, which would lead to the offer of a real alternative to reproduction.
The last channel of collective identity construction that we are going to look at here
is the project identity.This is produced ‘when social actors, on the basis of whichever
cultural materials are available to them, build a new identity that redefines their
6Ignacio Caldero
´n-Almendros & Cristo
´bal Ruiz-Roma
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position in society and, by so doing, seek the transformation of overall social
structure’ (Castells, 1997). This collective identity is in keeping with what we call
individual interpretation identity as it represents a form of elaborated promotion of the
person. We have called it interpretation identity because it implies a personal capacity
to decipher the codes of the contexts in which one moves, while at the same time rep-
resenting a form of promoting oneself in a relatively autonomous way from how one
interprets reality. This path of identity construction is much more educational, since
it entails and requires that the person control the codes that support society or certain
social groups, and that they also have the capacity to use them in accordance with
subjective or general interests. In other words, people strive to place themselves with
regard to the socialising power of the cultural communities by understanding the con-
flictive situation. So it is necessary to distinguish between what is legitimated by the
ruling groups, what the person needs and what he or she wishes to identify with. For
all the above, this channel uses the previous two, but its organisation is much more
highly prepared.
So, from the interpretation identity, the aim is to recognise, whether consciously or
subconsciously, the cultural codes that are used in the different communities.
However, this implies that the general norms, values and meanings in the different
contexts, whatever they may be, can be known from direct living experiences in the
different communities, a condition that is not always a possibility.
In fact, sometimes, some of the cultural codes in the confronted communities may
prove to be inaccessible, either because the distance between them is too great, or
because one of the communities places obstacles to hinder the appropriation of those
codes, with regard to certain interests. Often, these interests merge in the intention to
make up exclusive communities, with knowledge, ways of relating, privileges, etc. that
are inaccessible to others and are distinctive of their status as part of that community:
social classes, first and third world, urban or rural; these are just some of the exam-
ples of this in a world that proclaims itself to be globalised. To illustrate this point in
the educational field, we can look at the case of many boys and girls who are branded
as ‘school drop-outs’. In these cases, the compulsory school, which is assumed to have
to combine comprehensiveness with attention to diversity, keeps a distance between
the school’s ‘official culture’ and the culture that these students often acquire in their
homes and with their peer groups. The major distance between both cultures, and the
power the school exerts by maintaining that separation, hardly leaves room for inter-
pretation identity. In these cases, as we mentioned earlier, the students fall back on
the cultures they have acquired from the social areas they belong to and they continue
to construct their identity based on resistance, given that it is impossible for them to
access the academic culture’s codes. This would explain how those population groups
uphold language of force in the school context (Caldero
´n-Almendros, 2011).
The second requirement for interpretation identity would lie in the ability to under-
stand that a conflict exists to reconcile and practice the cultural meanings of the dif-
ferent communities in the two contexts. Furthermore, it is important to understand
that there are power relations between both communities, that each one will allow a
person to be included in or excluded from a specific area of the social structure, and
that both of them exert different pressure and sanction mechanisms on a person.
Disadvantaged Identities 7
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Continuing with our previous example, children from disadvantaged classes would
need to know that the continued use of physical force at school (that is so commonly
used in their social life outside of school) has devastating consequences, not just in
the short term and in the school institution, but for their future life, confining them
to spheres of life with little power and relegating them to the lowest positions on the
social scale. In the same way, they would have to realise that the use of the academic
culture with their peer group or in their family relations may disorient them within
their social culture, leading to them being ridiculed, picked on or even beaten up;
they can lose the respect and reputation they may have earned in those contexts and
end up being excluded from their communities.
All this explains how, even though they may take the first step and understand the
cultural codes, sometimes they choose not to put them into practice. In many cases,
it is impossible to practice the different codes belonging to different cultural commu-
nities (which give access to them), either due to pressure from the social opinion
within those communities, or due to material danger or physical impossibility. Some-
times, and above all in the case of adolescents, the way out of this conflict is through
camouflage. When youngsters find themselves forced to combine communities with
contradictory codes (as is the case with the children of Moroccan immigrants when
they have to combine the values of their family community and those of their peer
group of native youth) (Esteve et al., 2008) or when they find themselves forced to
repeatedly change contexts (for example, in juvenile centres, foster families, study
centres, etc.), they have no choice but to opt for camouflage. In other words, in each
cultural context, they only interpret or express those features of their identity that will
help them to integrate into that community.
In this study we have approached the ways in which identities are constructed in a
neoliberal society, in which hegemony is in conflict with diversity and subjectivity. At
the heart of the points raised, we can begin to see the challenges and opportunities
facing education in the task of attending to the construction of minority identities,
and to ensure that they are not left on the margins.
Our analysis leads us to think that the culture is dominated by certain groups and
collectives, and that the contributions of the more disadvantaged collectives are scar-
cely taken into account. The culture and curriculum on which the school institution
is based are also not neutral or aseptic, nor do they include the contributions, values
and meanings of the cultural communities and groups that they live with. As Bruner
(1996, p. 45) states, ‘the school curricula and the classroom “climates” always reflect
non-articulated cultural values as well as explicit plans; and those values are never
very far from considerations of social class and gender, or from the prerogatives of
social power’.
Hence, as we have seen, conflicts arise between the school institution’s world of
meanings (legitimating identity), and the world of meanings belonging to the students
coming from disadvantaged collectives (resistance identity). The conflict we really
need to be aware of is right before our eyes. This conflict brings two groups face to
8Ignacio Caldero
´n-Almendros & Cristo
´bal Ruiz-Roma
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face: the teachers, and the students who suffer school failure. Both have different
interests and a tremendous lack of communication. The two groups are constructing
and consolidating their identities through adaptation and resistance. The question is:
how to find a critical and interpretative solution to both collectives and to the people
who make up those collectives, in such a way that we can come out of the crisis with
flying colours? In the light of these conflicts, and if we want to encourage a more
inclusive school that respects and attends to different identities, the most educational
solution is not to continue avoiding the conflict.
When the existing conflicts between the different identities at the school are
avoided or annulled in the classroom, the school institution becomes a mere socialis-
ing agent of the legitimating identities, forcing those boys and girls to take on a sys-
tem of values, norms and meanings that, even though they may be legitimated by the
hegemonic groups, are often unfair and do not meet their material and symbolic
needs. To this effect, the institution becomes a place of domination, in which people
suffer reprisals (through the production system and the specific sanctions that the
school develops by means of the teaching staff) if they do not adapt to, or if they
resist, the cultural guidelines defined therein. The school, then, is a long way from
being that meeting point in which the students interpret and promote themselves in
an autonomous manner and by communicating with others. That is why the school,
in order to fulfil a more educational function, must encourage the construction of
interpretation identities.
To do so, the ecological model proposed by Doyle (1977) is highly illustrative,
recognising the make-up of two interdependent sub-systems in schools: the structure
of academic tasks and the structure of social participation. With regard to the first, in
the light of what we have argued in this study, we have to review our conception of
the school curriculum, still too focused on subjects and dominated by the transmis-
sive, streamed model, presupposing the students develop homogenously. Basing aca-
demic work on teaching methodologies that boost discovery, experimentation and
investigation would help to bring school culture closer to the students’ realities, which
is crucial in the cases we have dealt with in this article. The disadvantaged boys and
girls (immigrants, people with a disability, boys and girls from marginal contexts, etc.)
demand their cultures of origin to be in contact with the culture that is being devel-
oped at school. This is the only way in which the socio-cognitive conflict can take
place to develop significant and relevant learning. Only in this way can the new mean-
ings provided by the school be thrown into crisis, when they touch on their prior
knowledge and cognitive structure. That is why the situation requires us to redefine
our conception of teaching and teachers (Esteve, 2003,2010), understanding that our
mission is more about generating learning than going deeper into the transfer,
whether this is through traditional methods or mediated by new technologies.
Nevertheless, this vision of teaching is still lacking. When we talk about the partici-
pation structure, we would like to stress the need to restructure the relations that are
established in the school environment. Dialogic education becomes the touchstone for
constructing identities beyond the hegemonic ideal, because it enables visions to be
transformed by putting the different parties involved in the conflicts we suffer as
teachers and students in real contact with one another.
Disadvantaged Identities 9
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This entails making it possible for people and groups to develop culture out of their
own needs, references and habitual circumstances, which in critical dialogue with
others, will broaden their ideal and material horizons and act as a catalyst to improve
their contexts (Ruiz-Roma
´n, 2003). Indeed, the construction of identity by interpreta-
tion must go beyond a ‘logic’ that imposes socialisation and, as Novalis claimed, it
must develop a ‘fantastic’ that enables new forms of creative projection. (Novalis,
1977). Consequently, to construct identities from interpretation, conflict should not
be annulled or avoided, but rather it should be brought into an educational process
so that, through dialogue, people can interpret the meanings in play and subsequently
project themselves in an autonomous manner. Educating through dialogue involves
clearly assuming the political dimension of education (Freire, 1985), placing special
emphasis on two of the pillars of educational activity: learning to live together, and in
a context in which we can all participate, learning to be (Delors, 1997). Educating
through conflict involves understanding that the reality must be constructed between
us all, and that we will all get something out of this, as education is a process in
which form plays a decisive role. Educating through conflict has the intention to con-
struct a better world, one in which each student can decide what they want to be like,
but this requires us teachers to make a firm commitment: to walk uncharted paths
that expose us to uncertainty, but which place us in a position to be hopeful that we
can give meaning to our work as teachers; that we can reconstruct our identity as
teachers, coming ever closer to the margins.
This paper has been carried out as part of two research projects: One of them (SEJ1366) was
funded by the Consejerı
´a de Economı
´a, Innovacio
´n, Ciencia y Empleo de la Junta de Andalucı
(Department of Economy, Innovation, Science and Employment of the Government of Andalu-
sia, Spain) and the other was funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation of Spain
Disclosure statement
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.
This work was supported by the Department of Economy, Innovation, Science and Employ-
ment of the Government of Andalusia, Spain [SEJ/1366]; Ministry of Science and Innovation
of Spain [EDU2009-09654].
Notes on contributors
Ignacio Caldero
´n-Almendros (PhD in Education) is a lecturer in the Department of Theory
and History of Education (University of Malaga-Spain). He is a member of the Education The-
ory and Social Education Research Group (Regional Ministry of Economy, Innovation, Science
and Employment of Andalusia). His research interests are educational exclusion and inclusion,
disability and sociocultural disadvantage, which analyses through the educational experience.
His last research has received the Disability and Human Rights 2013 Award by Spanish Commit-
tee of Representatives of Persons with Disabilities.
10 Ignacio Caldero
´n-Almendros & Cristo
´bal Ruiz-Roma
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´bal Ruiz-Roma
´n (PhD in Education) is a lecturer in the Department of Theory and
History of Education (University of Malaga, Spain). He is a member of the Theory of Educa-
tion and Social Education Research Group. His research areas are socio-educational exclusion/
inclusion, socio-cultural disadvantage and socio-educational resilient processes. He has written
a number of articles in these areas. Currently he is the main researcher of a Research Project of
Excellence in relation to Resilience, Identity and Education. (SEJ1366 of the Department of
Economy, Innovation, Science and Employment of the Regional Government of Andalusia).
Ignacio Caldero
´bal Ruiz-Roma
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... This capacity to transcend social conditions has fundamental implications for the processes of identity construction. As human beings, we have the capacity to decipher the codes of the contexts in which we live, while building ways of projecting ourselves relatively autonomously from our interpretation of reality (Calderón-Almendros and Ruiz-Román 2015). However, this is very unlikely to happen if there is no assertive mediation within the context. ...
... Castells (1997) calls them 'project identities' and they are produced by social actors 'that redefine their position in society and, by so doing, seek the transformation of overall social structure'. This collective identity is in keeping with what we have called 'individual interpretation identity' (Calderón-Almendros and Ruiz-Román 2015), as it represents an elaborate form of promotion: people strive to place themselves with regard to the socialising power of the cultural communities by understanding the conflictive situation. ...
This article presents a case study focused on the experiences of Rafael, a resilient young musician. The research is based on 180 records made through interviews, focus groups, observations and documentary collection, involving 190 informants. The data analysis shows that social systems create subordinated and stigmatised conditions of experience for people with disabilities which lead to social exclusion and reification. This understanding of disability as oppression (which is the ‘coffin of the dead’) can be combated by means of education, understood as resistance to inequality. This can be effected by questioning the social order and power relationships, thus striving to produce the possibility of being a subject. In this way Rafael has been able to construct his identity relatively autonomously, challenging social mandates that led him to exclusion and denied his existence as a subject. In his own words: ‘I open the coffin and here I am’.
... 69). Mötet mellan lärare och dessa elevgrupper kan förstås som ett tillfälle då en konflikt manifesterar sig -en konflikt som bygger på att läroplanen legitimerar och förespråkar vissa identiteter medan andra utestängs och/eller förkastas (Calderón-Almendros & Ruiz-Román, 2016). Beach och Sernhede (2012) formulerar orsaken till den spänningsfyllda relationen mellan ungdomar och lärare på liknande sätt när de skriver att den beror på skolans oförmåga att inkorporera vissa ungdomars erfarenheter i skolans värld (s. ...
... Lärarnas valmöjligheter att hantera elevernas oönskade handlingar kan leda till repressiva beslut men även till handlingar som blir en resurs och skapar möjligheter för eleverna (Jmf. Calderón-Almendros & Ruiz-Román, 2016;Lareau, 2015). Foucault (2003) skriver att i grunden handlar skolans ritualer, aktiviteter, uppdelning i tid och plats, bedömningar och kategoriseringar om hur subjekt görs -hur eleverna kategoriseras och positioneras. ...
School segregation has increased in Sweden during the last decades, and students from socio-economically disadvantaged groups ended up in schools with economic challenges as well as overall low goal achievement. The aim of this study is to illuminate how students in urban disadvantaged neighbourhoods relate to school. With an ethnographic approach, the study draws on fieldwork conducted in a junior high school, grade seven, using a combination of theories from Foucault and Goffman as theoretical frame for the analysis. The results indicate that the often described conflict between school and students from disadvantaged groups does not have to always occur. Teachers can use humour and youth culture to prevent the conflict to manifest. However, the central aspect of how students relate to school is the perceived position of disadvantage. Both school achievement and oppositional behaviour against school rules function as ways for students to distance themselves from this position. In conclusion, this study highlights the importance of teachers to counteract the conflict – a form of support – enabling students from disadvantaged groups to succeed in school and thus securing the opportunity for a more prosperous future.
... Once again, these events were preceded by preparatory meetings, in which we worked for empowerment and liberation from the oppressions lived by many of those involved (Calderón-Almendros and Ruiz- Román , 2016. This meant that they were placed in a position to offer criticism and analysis that could lead to public policies closer to what they saw as responding to their needs. ...
Full-text available
This article draws on its authors’ experiences of engaging with the narratives of communities in Latin America implicated in the promotion of inclusion and equity in education. It illustrates how the voices of students, teachers, and families can throw light on the challenges involved. In particular, the article shows how their conditions, difficulties, achievements, fears, and hopes can provide a better understanding of their complex realities and help to shape theories of change. Incorporating the views of different stakeholders, the article focuses on the process of enabling people to become critically conscious about their realities, at the same time developing theoretical tools to become more inclusive in their thinking. It argues that inclusive education is a radical political project that needs to be closer to the feelings and knowledge of oppressed people. This means that we must construct new narratives that encourage people to make their own challenges; this, in turn, can contribute to change at the system level. The article proposes a framework that can be used to review the situation in other countries and offers recommendations as to how to introduce it. Full text available for reading:
... Similarly, the social model of disability positions people with disabilities to define their identities and the lives of people with disabilities and separates them from their own lives and such oppression is neither reasonable nor inevitable (Abberley, 1987). Assuming that disability is indeed the result of oppression, the main purpose of education is then to achieve the liberation of people with disabilities and their advocacy (Calderón-Almendros & Ruiz-Román, 2015). Liberating the oppressed necessitates dialogue, which is 'never an end in itself but a means to develop a better comprehension about the object of knowledge' because 'dialogue presents itself as an indispensable component of the process of both learning and knowing' (Freire, 2005, p. 17-18). ...
Full-text available
This qualitative case study examined the experiences of two pre- service teachers with visual impairments at a Turkish university. Two pre-service teachers with visual impairments, four teacher educators, six peers, and three administrators participated in this study. The data were collected through individual and focus group interviews, observations, reflective journals, and formal documents. The qualitative analysis of data was completed with the utilisation of MAXQDA software. The findings suggested that even though the institution fulfilled the minimum requirements for the regulations, there were several issues that needed to be addressed in order to provide accessibility to the students with visual impairments. Also, the empowerment and advocacy of students with disabilities were oppressed by dominance social, cultural, and political bodies. In this regard, recommendations and implications for future research are discussed.
... As we have argued elsewhere (Calderón-Almendros, 2011, Calderón-Almendros, 2014, Calderón-Almendros and Ruiz-Román, 2015, 2016, normalisation is used to implement an entire logic of control that pervades educational institutions and the pathways available to disadvantaged groups. This is a network of institutions, programmes and measures from which escape is extremely difficult. ...
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Professionals and scholars play a relevant role with respect to the languages and discourses of the most subordinated groups, under the rubric of normality. This is analyzed in this paper, and some suggestions are also made as to how to make schools spaces of hope which support differences, help return language to the citizenship, and enable alliances of resistance to be generated, and in so doing give schools an educational and social meaning.
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Support networks are both one of the great tools and one of the major challenges for social work when dealing with situations of social exclusion. The multidimensional nature of the social exclusion that affects many children from disadvantaged areas demands that the various social agents involved develop teamwork practices. This article presents practice-based evidence of the impact of a network support programme that works with children from a disadvantaged area in Má laga (Spain). Data are presented in connection with a reduction of the number of children dropping out of school and the increase in academic achievement; the role played by socio-educational follow-up in these accomplishments; and how valuable support networks have become for the professionals involved in the programme. The evidence is discussed in connection with the most recent literature to extract some valuable ideas emerging from socio-educational support networks for social work practice, with a view to promoting the social and educational advancement of children from disadvantaged areas.
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Resilience has become a very popular concept in recent years. More and more social intervention models and practices are increasingly being based on this concept. However, far from being a closed and static notion, it is very dynamic and constantly evolving. This paper presents an analysis of how the concept of resilience and the studies about it have developed over time. The literature on resilience shows that the concept has shifted from an approach that identified it as a personal quality towards an approach that understands it as a set of actions activated from different spheres. The latest advances in studies on resilience raise the prospect of some elements that, going beyond the individual's ability, should be taken into account from a social practice perspective. This study will therefore highlight and analyse the potential of these elements in the co-creation of actions and synergies for resilience.
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The stigmatisation of some marginalised groups is a common, cross-cutting form of social exclusion. However, just as there are some common forms of exclusion among discriminated groups, certain strategies of resilience in the face of social exclusion are also shared by different groups within their various social contexts. This paper is based on a com- parative analysis of three case studies of individuals who have experienced processes of resilience when faced with stigmatisation and social exclusion. One is a person who emigrat- ed from an impoverished country to Spain; another, a person with an intellectual disability; and the third is a person of gypsy origin living in a marginalised neighbourhood. In the first phase, in-depth interviews and focus groups were used to collect data for each of the three case studies. The data from each of them were then analysed by using their own emerging system of categories. In the second phase, common categories within all three case studies were identified. This was effected by using a similarity-based comparative analysis of cases. We were therefore able to see that there were some categories common to the three case studies, namely stigmatism and dehumanisation; suffering and pain as driving forces behind the struggle; resilience and empowerment, and socio-educational help. These shape what we term resilient dynamics or processes generated by people and their environments, and provide interesting synergies and resistance to social exclusion.
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EDUCATION, DISABILITY AND INCLUSION | The book describes the experience of Rafael Calderón-Almendros (the first person with Down syndrome to obtain a professional music degree in Spain) and his family. A confrontation arose with his school at the end of his compulsory secondary education stage. After Rafael had been a student in the centre from the start of his education, the institution lost its vision and denied the student his rights. The school used concealed segregation strategies, legitimized by the institution and its professionals, which were almost insurmountable. However, Rafael’s family embarked on a process of Action Research, began to fight for the recognition of the right for all students to obtain a formal education. This research shows how critical analyses were born from the experiences of a representative of one of the most disadvantaged groups (disabled people), which have been rigorously recorded and evidenced. From an inclusive, engaged and radical perspective, the text presents a solid case of someone outside the able-dominated average completing his education to a high professional standard. His success is endorsed by subsequent events: Rafael passed his compulsory secondary education, the equivalent of the English Baccalaureate and his Elementary and Professional Grades of Music (ten years). He obtained the Gold Medal of Merit in Education of Andalusia and the World Down Syndrome Day Award. He was admitted to the prestigious Academy of Orchestral Studies Barenboim-Said. Rafael has nothing else to prove. Today, his example challenges many of the usual school practices and urges us to rethink the commitment of educators in stimulating the participation of the entire school community, in promoting student autonomy and the recognition of others in their human and social rights.
Contributes to a radical formulation of pedagogy through its revitalization of language, utopianism, and revolutionary message. . . . The book enlarges our vision with each reading, until the meanings become our own. Harvard Educational RevieWtextless/itextgreaterConstitutes the voice of a great teacher who has managed to replace the melancholic and despairing discourse of the post-modern Left with possibility and human compassion. Educational Theory
This paper seeks to provide some personal reflections on the emergence and development of Disability Studies in England. The paper contends that underpinning this process of development is a conception of disability as a form of social oppression, in which the nature of discrimination and exclusion in their complex and varied forms, are viewed as fundamentally significant. The identification, challenge and removal of disabling barriers is seen as a serious and urgent task. Disability Studies is perceived to be a critical process of enquiry, in which engaging with the voices of disabled people, the conceptual, theoretical, explanatory and practical dimensions involved, are perceived to be of central importance. The paper also argues that the struggle for inclusivity entails a serious and perennial exploration of conceptions, issues and questions concerning equity, social justice, exclusion and citizenship. The motivation for this engagement is a desire for transformative change. This goes beyond the issue of disablement in the pursuit of a non-discriminatory, non-oppressive social and material world. Highlighting particular insights from Disability Studies, attention is focused on their impact on the development and teaching of postgraduate courses in Inclusive Education in two Universities which the author and other colleagues have been responsible for. Three insights are identified and discussed, and they are: the social creation of categories; the social model and its implications for the nature and purpose of research, and finally, the issue of transformative change. In the Conclusion, a series of questions are highlighted which have emerged from this particular engagement and which continue to be a challenge for future changes. Finally, the account is set within a broader framework in which cross-cultural issues, globalisation, the importance of encouraging critical reflections on personal assumptions, understandings and practices are fore grounded. The overall intention is to stimulate further discussion and analysis.