Att vara i särklass : om delaktighet och utanförskap i gymnasiesärskolan

Sammanfattning: In the Swedish debate concerning disability issues it has been shown, as in many other countries, that the concept ‘participation’ has been used in a very vague and obscure way. For example, at an ideological level the concept often refers to ‘accessibility’. Others claim that it should be understood as ‘social integration’ or ‘inclusion’. In the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (WHO) participation means ‘involvement’ in a life situation. In the literature there are several ways to approach the concept of participation. Broadly, it is used to describe a characteristic within the individual or the result of an interplay. The general aim of this thesis is to illuminate different forms of participation within the municipal upper secondary special programme for pupils with intellectual disabilities (ID).The study contains two main parts. On the one hand a semantic analysis is made for the purpose of illuminating different conceptual forms of participation. On the other hand a field study is performed. This empirical study can be described as a hermeneutically influenced field study designed to interpret participative patterns in everyday school situations.Data have been collected during a period of one school year. Several methods have been used in order to capture different kinds of patterns in the pupils’ participation in a chosen upper secondary individual program for pupils with ID. These methods involve participant observation in everyday school situations (which was recorded in field notes), interviews with pupils, staff and administrators.Rather often it is implied that a higher extent of involvement leads to a higher (or better) form of participation. My study showed something else. Several examples demonstrated how groups of pupils within the special programme setting gave up their involvement in specific activities since they wanted to show their belonging to a different community outside the school. The analysis showed that involvement, as one form of participation, is highly related to other forms of participation (for example formal and informal belonging). In one sense these pupils had a conception of how to behave in order to be accepted outside the special programme setting. Therefore it is possible to talk about the pupils in terms of different worlds of belonging. For a specific group of pupils the formal belonging to the special programme was a threat towards their self-image, which seemed to derive from another alternative world — with other ideals than are usually associated with special programmes for pupils with ID.