Social Inclusion and Local Practices of Belonging
Central to the relational aspects of social inclusion is achieving a sense of belonging, particularly at the everyday, local level. Belonging in this everyday sense can be thought of as an ongoing project achieved through everyday practices, rather than solely in terms of membership of a group. While many such practices, for example regularly engaging in team sports, are accepted ways of establishing and maintaining belonging, for others in a community practices of belonging may necessitate disrupting or at least broadening the established norms of how one belongs.
To ground this discussion of inclusion and belonging, this paper draws on practices of belonging in a regional community. Established norms of belonging are examined through the idea of ‘being a local’, a way of belonging that appears to be based on membership. The paper then turns to two local projects which disrupt the exclusive bounds of local membership and establish new and inclusive practices of belonging. To conclude, parallels are drawn between the boundaries which define ‘the social’ in social inclusion and ‘the local community’ in being a local, to argue for the importance of including relational aspects of social inclusion within social inclusion policy debates and program formulation.
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