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What is social inclusion?

Page contents: A definition of social inclusion | The values that underpin social inclusion
A definition of social inclusion
A socially inclusive society is defined as one where all people feel valued, their differences
are respected, and their basic needs are met so they can live in dignity. Social exclusion is the
process of being shut out from the social, economic, political and cultural systems which
contribute to the integration of a person into the community (Cappo 2002).
Quoted in VicHealth Research Summary 2 - Social inclusion as a determinant of mental
health & wellbeing (January 2005)
Social inclusion, community inclusion, social connectedness, normalisation, social
integration, social citizenship - all these are terms that relate to the importance of the links
between the individual members of our society and the role of each person as a member of
this group.
The values that underpin social inclusion
The values that underpin social inclusion:
Everyone Is Ready – None of us has to pass a test or meet a set of criteria before
we can be included.
Everyone Can Learn – As human beings we all grow and change and make mistakes: and
we are all capable of learning.
Everyone Needs Support - Sometimes some of us need more support than others.
Everyone Can Communicate – Not using words doesn’t mean we don’t have anything to
Everyone Can Contribute – We need to recognise, encourage and value each person’s
contributions - including our own.
Together We Are Better – We are not dreaming of a world where everyone is like us -
difference is our most important renewable resource.

Social inclusiveness and political power

July 5, 2010
in Canada,Politics
It seems intuitively obvious that the political elite in previous historical eras consisted of
people who had a level of intelligence and cunning that would impress us today. There is,
however, at least one major reason for doubting that: social inclusiveness.
Think about the inner cadre of advisers to Henry VIII. In order to get into those positions, it
was essentially necessary to be born into a circumstance that allowed such advancement. No
matter how clever you were, and what an acute political mind you had, if you were born into
a life of servitude in the fields, you were pretty unlikely to end up doing anything else. So,
you take the population of Tudor England, exclude basically all the women and everyone
otherwise trapped by the social system, and then those advisers are drawn from who remains.
The same would have been true in relation to the advisers of Alexander the Great, Ramesses
II, or any other historical leader you care to consider.
If you imagine society as a cone, with influence graphed on the vertical axis and the number
of people graphed as the narrowing radius of the cone, those in ancient societies who ended
up at the top were clearly drawn from a smaller pool.
By contrast, in states like Canada today, it is plausible that anybody who is extremely
capable, savvy, and intelligent could rise and play a role within the top tiers of the political
elite. By extension, it seems plausible to say that the caliber of people in such positions –
both in Canada and elsewhere – is likely higher than has generally been the case in the past.
Of course, there can be a deep and wide chasm that separates advisers who are intelligent and
savvy from those who urge courses of action likely to improve the general welfare of the
population. That is especially true if being a psychopath helps with becoming politically
{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah July 5, 2010 at 1:01 pm

I think you’re greatly underestimating the social mobility involved in Henry VIII’s
court. Not all his were born rich or noble, & some of them started off fairly lowly &
acquired the wealth and titles in court – Cardinal Wolsey’s father was a butcher.
Tristan July 5, 2010 at 1:28 pm

“Social inclusiveness” doesn’t mean much unless a diversity of views are permitted.
The best way to restrict debate in any society is to allow open debate and much
discussion, but within a restricted realm. I doubt this is much different today in
Canada as it was in former monarchical elites. The fact that anyone sufficiently savvy
can join the elite doesn’t make the elite socially inclusive if joining the elite is
conditional on adopting the frame of debate permitted by the elite structure.

Tristan July 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm

If you want to see evidence of the narrowness of permissible views in the Canadian
elite, look at the Ontario Legislature’s condemnation of Israeli Apartheid week.–mpps-unite-to-condemn-odious-

alena July 5, 2010 at 5:53 pm

With the unprecedented movement of people from one country to another,

improvements in access to education and increasing opportunities for women, people
clearly have more ability and freedom to rise above their social standing. Within our
educational system alone, we are benefitting from cultural diversity and the incredible
motivation that many newcomers possess.

Tristan July 5, 2010 at 8:39 pm

“With the unprecedented movement of people from one country to another”

Movement of people between countries peaked in the 19th century. Current neo-
liberal doctrine is to reduce the mobility of labour. We see this directly in the
militarization of the US-Mexico border by Clinton after the imposition of NAFTA
which, as was understood, had a devastating effect on the Mexican economy (it’s
called an “economic miracle”) – so the border was militarized to prevent the free
movement of labour.

alena July 6, 2010 at 11:30 am

Immigration continues to grow in Canada and elsewhere and I am not that interested
in the numbers, but rather in the talent that it brings to us. Of course, that means that
the countries that these people leave will have a talent deficit.
Tristan July 7, 2010 at 12:33 am

Why does immigration “continue to grow”? What is the effect of WTO, G8 and G20
economic policies on the productive economies of those nations from which many
migrants which to move? Also, it’s unclear how you can claim immigration is
“growing” if you are not interested in numbers – numbers are how we measure
By the numbers, according to Wikipedia, the period of highest immigration to Canada
appears to have been 1910-1913, peaking with 400,000 migrants in ’13. So, while
Canada’s current target – about 250,000 per year, might be the highest per capita in
the world, it is still nominally lower than it was a hundred years ago. And the more
interesting per capita difference would be even larger.
According to wikipedia Canada’s population in 1913 was 7.6 million, so 400,000
immigrants was one migrant for every 19 Canadians. Compared with today’s
population of 34 million – we are currently admitting one Canadian for every 136
Canadians per year.
So, in short, our current immigration rate is approximately 7 times smaller than it was
in 1913.

Tristan July 8, 2010 at 11:39 am

If you’re concerned about the “increase” in immigration as a good thing, you should
likely be concerned about the increase in temporary migrant work visas as a bad
thing. Canada’s temporary migrant worker program is akin to indentured labour, or
even paid-slavery because the workers have no rights (because for no reason an
employer can terminate his support for a worker and have them deported, i.e. if they
complain about illegal working or living conditions).
“This is not a new development in immigration policy. From 2002 to 2008, the
number of temporary foreign workers present in Canada, most of them in clerical or
manual work, increased from 100,000 to 250,000.
However, this increase happened in parallel to new policies that limited the time those
workers could stay in Canada. Workers were restricted to staying in Canada for only
four years after which they would be banned from reentering Canada for the next six
years. This made it harder for temporary workers to gain residency or skilled
employment through experience, creating a disposable workforce. ”

Tristan July 8, 2010 at 11:42 am

“By contrast, in states like Canada today, it is plausible that anybody who is
extremely capable, savvy, and intelligent could rise and play a role within the top tiers
of the political elite. ”
“Women fleeing abuse leave their homes and friends; cross deserts and seas; go over
borders and through checkpoints looking for freedom, for security, for refuge. Refuge
that Canada refuses to grant. Survivors of abuse applying to be refugees are being
rejected by Canada. Many many are unable to leave.”
-No one is Illegal

Milan July 8, 2010 at 1:31 pm

I think my basic point remains unchallenged:

Generally speaking, societies that are more socially inclusive will have a higher
calibre of people in positions of influence than those that are more restrictive.
For instance, the incorporation of women into the workforce has probably improved
the level of competence among various levels of managers. Also, institutions with a
rigid hierarchy (like dynastic monarchies or the papacy) are likely to end up led by
less savvy people than organizations that recruit and promote in meritocratic ways.

Tristan July 8, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Sure. But your original point is nearly trivially true. Hegel advocated this kind of
openness to membership in the bureaucratic class (“estate”) in his 1820 work
“Philosophy of Right”. This form of social inclusion is not specifically democratic – it
is compatible with oligarchic monarchy, or even certain brands of fascism.

Tristan July 8, 2010 at 2:08 pm

My point is that Canada is much less socially inclusive than we generally believe.
You might even argue that our exclusion of the poor and of non-Canadians really does
hurt the bureaucracy and political elite. Certainly in the 250,000 migrant workers with
no rights there are people who might help Canada very much – but it is illegal for
them to learn English so they won’t get the chance.

. July 8, 2010 at 2:14 pm

“Mr Bush’s one significant departure from conservative doctrine concerned

immigration, where he unsuccessfully attempted a liberalising reform. Mr Harper is
more orthodox. After a rise in the number of would-be refugees from Mexico last
year, Canada required all visitors from Mexico—its partner in the North American
Free Trade Agreement—to obtain visas. The government is now pushing a broader
reform of immigration law which would make it harder for both bogus and legitimate
refugees to reach Canadian soil. A poll this year found that 27% of Canadians see
immigrants and refugees as a critical threat, up from 21% five years ago.“

. July 8, 2010 at 2:15 pm

“And there’s little foreign workers can do themselves to improve their prospects.
Brnada noted temporary foreign workers are not allowed to upgrade their skills
through schooling while in Canada.”

. July 8, 2010 at 2:18 pm

“One day, Chandra is hoping he’ll also become a full-fledged Canadian citizen. If
he’s allowed to upgrade his visa, he can go to chef school and take courses that,
combined with a few more months of work under his belt, would make him eligible
for the provincial nominee program, too.”

Milan July 8, 2010 at 2:21 pm

So, how would you change Canada’s immigration system?

Tristan July 8, 2010 at 2:26 pm

I would eliminate the TFWP and replace it with a corresponding increase to the
immigration quotas. I would alter the immigration points system to take into account
the need for the labour no longer being supplied by the TFWP.
Of course, there would be some negative effects. Labour costs would go up, because
systematic garnishing of peoples wages would no longer be so easily swept under the
table. But there were also negative economic effects with the end of slavery.
Sometimes it’s absolutely morally required not to treat people inhumanely. Canada is
literally an apartheid state – both because of the differential treatment of first nations
people, and because of the precarious legal status of temporary migrant workers. No
one should consider this acceptable.

. July 16, 2010 at 2:49 am

Ship full of migrants heading to Canada: foreign report
Adrian Morrow
July 16, 2010
“This could end up being a prime example of individuals trying to take advantage of
our generous immigration system,” said Celyeste Power, press secretary to
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, in a prepared statement. “Our government is
committed to cracking down on bogus refugees while providing protection to those
that truly need our help.”
“The federal government has been eager to do this because, once refugee claimants
land in the country, the government must go through a lengthier process to examine
their applications for asylum.
Last October, for instance, 76 Tamil refugees landed in British Columbia in another
ship believed to be connected to the Tigers. The migrants have been freed while their
claims are processed, which could take several years.”

Philip Kindred August 4, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I was very grateful to discover your essays and the generally interesting discourse that
follows. I like the way you think and wanted to comment on the exchange already in
progress. I think you attempted to reframe the original point in this follow on:
>”Generally speaking, societies that are more socially inclusive will have a higher
calibre of people in positions of influence than those that are more restrictive.”
Okay, I agree with that; but the essay opened with the anecdotal test of Henry VIII’s
inner circle: smarter, more capable, or dumb and dumber? This is a question that has
intrigued me ever since my conventional assumptions were challenged by the
schoolteacher-turned-philosopher John Taylor Gatto. His contention, which I find
supportable, is that those receiving any type of education prior to mid-1800 were
unquestionably broader and more flexible thinkers. There are a variety of factors, two
primary ones being specialization/narrowing of focus; and managed cultural goals
steered through institutions. Personally, I would also add the chemical assault on our
bodies through our food and water sources.
If you accept this (please don’t, without review) then the question turns to the nature
of intelligence and the limits of both education and of natural selection. If other
factors make people “dumber” today, are they counterbalanced by educational
opportunities and a larger selection base? If so, where does the curve fall off, where is
the population so big that marginal gains are negligible? Interesting to ponder.

Tristan August 27, 2010 at 11:22 pm

This Globe and Mail article is an example of decent liberal thinking, which I find less
and less absent from Canadian civil discourse as a significant portion of the elite turn
more sharply against Harper:
Tamils of a different stripe
Gordon Weiss
From Saturday’s Globe and Mail
“As Michael Ignatieff says of the troublesome “terrorist” word, the equally fuzzy
“link” word ought to be banned from the fraught boat-people debate. It is a word
better suited to tabloids and gossip columns. True, in the late 1970s, a handful of
Tamils trained with Palestinian factions in Lebanon. But “links” to al-Qaeda look
rather shaky if one considers that every other terrorist group was there at the same
time. The IRA was there, and Gerry Adams is not “linked” to al-Qaeda.
Apart from all that, should Canadians consider the Tamil Tigers a threat to their own
security today? The answer is no. Aside from the 1991 assassination of Indian prime
minister Rajiv Gandhi, their violence was shrewdly confined to Sri Lanka. The Tamil
Tigers were a textbook insurgent group that resorted to terrorist tactics. Like the
Kurds, Palestinians, Irish Catholics, the Karen of Burma or the Uighurs of China, the
Tamils harboured a grievance born of both perceived and actual injustices. The Tigers
mobilized those grievances into a broad-based revolution against the Sri Lankan state.
The basis of their gripes is a no-brainer. In 1956, the Sinhalese-dominated
government made Sinhala the official language. Tamil passports, degrees, legal
judgments and land titles were issued in a language they could not understand. In
1972, the government further marginalized Hindu Tamils by making Buddhism the
state religion. That same year, the government introduced legislation that
discriminated against Tamil entry to university. In 1983, an orchestrated pogrom
killed between 2,000 and 3,000 Tamils, and burned tens of thousands of others out of
their homes and businesses. Over the following year, the Tigers grew from a rag-tag
team of 50 men into an army of thousands.”
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