Imagining Social Equity

Imagining Social Equity

Helen J. Farrell (The University of Melbourne, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9452-1.ch012
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In my view, work in special and inclusive education, and early childhood special education intervention is challenging and exciting. The children and young people (and adults) with complex special needs have become the shared responsibility of both educators and many other allied health professionals in recent years. The unique patterns of special education service delivery to these children and young people require work in interdisciplinary teams. The mission and concern of the chapter offers the interdisciplinary community in the education sector including teachers, academics, graduate students, policy makers, researchers, non-governmental organisations, government officials, school boards, medical and paramedical professionals, and advocacy groups the opportunity to work together to explore what notions of social equity mean, and to investigate ways of ameliorating disadvantage in special and inclusive education, and early childhood special education intervention sectors.
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Imagining Social Equity

More contemporary notions of social equity have a history informed by the body of literature of internationally distinguished and highly respected social critics over at least the past fifty years, e.g., Runciman (1967); Derrida, 1978; Foucault, 1983; Foucault, 1991a; Foucault, 1991b; Foucault, 1991c; The United States President’s Council on Sustainable Development (1996); and Gylfason and Zoega (2003).

These social critics have expressed views that, for example, “... the many inequalities between one person or group and another ... are social [and/or cultural] ... as opposed to economic or political ...”. Critics advocate for explicit embedding of significant, innovative and sustainable social, cultural, economic, political and environmental benefit into best evidence based policy, professional practice and research. Other critics advocate for a “... [re] balance of social, cultural, economic, political and environmental equity ...”.

Education has long been regarded as one of the key determinants of economic growth around the world. Nevertheless, a widely held view among economists is that economic efficiency and political expediency are incompatible with social and cultural equity, if not outright mutually exclusive. The revival of economic growth theory in recent years appears to have brought dynamic efficiency and expediency to the fore. However, it is deemed beyond the mission and concern of the chapter to provide a critique of this body of literature.

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