Inclusive education and intellectual disability: a sociological engagement with Martha Nussbaum

Chrissie Rogers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As a result of exclusionary tactics, social, cultural or economic disadvantage or disability, vast numbers of pupils have poor educational experiences and are either marginalised or demonised due to 'difficult differences'. In the context of Martha Nussbaum's capabilities approach, where she suggests that we ought to be who we want to be, this paper addresses intellectual disability, inclusion and inclusive education. It proposes that care, compassion, creativity and ethics are critical in understanding the education for all children and young people, rather than necessarily pedagogical process. In addition, it suggests that learning should take place within and through relationships and that these relationships are important in developing a healthy sense of self. Therefore politically, rather than following a path of blame whether it is the dysfunctional family, the deficit child or the economically deprived nation, this paper says that we require socially just practices, compassion and care as fundamental to human development, social inclusion and inclusive education. Ultimately, education is failing a large sum of children and young people and therefore needs to be radically reconsidered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)988-1002
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
Issue number9
Early online date28 Sept 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • capabilities approach
  • care ethics
  • inclusive education
  • intellectual disability
  • Martha Nussbaum
  • social inclusion
  • sociology of education


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