chapter  2
18 Pages

Inclusive education as an ideology or field

Gramsci (1971/1999: 706) in his Prison Notebooks bemoaned the ‘arbitrary elucubrations of particular individuals’ as the widespread, ‘bad sense’ use of the name ‘ideology’. More recently, others have noted that the word ideology is often used vaguely and has various and contradictory definitions and approaches (Bourdieu and Eagleton 2012; Eagleton 1994). Althusser’s (1970/2012) work must be regarded

as seminal in a discussion of ideology, and is valuable as inclusive education is considered as ideological.1 Developing the Marxist theory of the State, Althusser proposed the concept of ideological state apparatuses (religion, education, family, communication, etc.) which contribute to the reproduction of the relations of production. In positing a theory of ideology in general, rather than a theory of specific ideologies, Althusser examined various hypotheses. The first is that ideology is an imaginary or illusory rather than a real representation of the material conditions and relations of existence. The second is that ideology has a material existence and ‘exists in an apparatus, and its practice or practices’ (Althusser 1970/2012: 126). From these, Althusser derived his central thesis, which is that ideology is made possible by the subject, and that the function of ideology is to constitute individuals as subjects. This occurs through interpellation, or as ideology hails individuals and transforms them into subjects. Drawing on Althusser’s hypotheses, ideology can fruitfully be considered in relation to power, material processes and their functioning. These, in turn, can be related to inclusive education as an ideology.