All societies have some sort of division amongst themselves, whether based on race, religion, socioeconomic status, or some other criteria. Typically, those in the dominant group control the opportunities of those in other groups, more so in some communities than others (Levitas 1998). In overly simplistic terms, the degree to which individuals or non-dominant groups may and choose to join in the opportunities of the dominant society is called inclusion.
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The degree to which they are prevented or decline from joining in these opportunities is called exclusion. The terms social inclusion and its opposite, social exclusion, came into use in the 1970s in France, and have since been adopted by many countries in the EU (Reeves 2002).
This study seeks to first define social inclusion and identify effective evaluation of social inclusion policy and programming. Alook at the historic role of dance as a means of social inclusion and exclusion is examined, with discussion of the roles of professionaldance, dance instruction and performance, and social dance ininclusion. The study defines the requirements of dance projects intended as social inclusion tools to offer access, provision, accommodation, and empowerment. The results from such a program should include enhanced personal development, increased self-determination,and improved social unity. It is important to also consider the costto individuals participating in social inclusion activities, particularly how their changing thoughts, attitudes and goals affecttheir relationships with family and friends.
The study concludes with six examples of well-run social inclusiondance programmes, and a plan for implementing a dance programme with a goal of increased social inclusion.
In the examination of social inclusion or the effectiveness of aspecific tool in social inclusion, it is necessary to further definethe term. There is variation in the academic and political communitiesas to the focus and scope, not to mention purpose, of socialinclusion. Many disagree on the exact definition of inclusion andexclusion and appropriate models to describe their effect onindividuals and the community.
For example, the United Nations holds that social inclusion “must bebased on respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms,cultural and religious diversity, social justice and the special needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, democratic participation andthe rule of law” (Britton and Casebourne, 2005). The European Social Fund defines social inclusion as “the development of capacity andopportunity to play a full role, not only in economic terms, but also in social, psychological and political terms” (Britton and Casebourne,2005).
“Social inclusion is achieved when individuals or areas do not sufferfrom the negative effects of unemployment, poor skills, low income,poor housing, crime, bad health, family problems, limited to access toservices and rurality, e.g. remoteness, sparsity, isolation and highcosts,” according to the UK government (CESI 2005). The Laidlaw Foundation of Canada states,
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