Teachers Living with Contradictions: Social Representations of Inclusion, Exclusion and Stratification in Israeli Schools

  • Smadar Tuval Kaye Academic College of Education, Israel
Keywords: social representations, inclusion, exclusion, stratification, ethnography research


This paper describes part of an ethnographic research study that examined the Social Representations

of inclusion and stratification within Israeli elementary schools. These concepts derive from separate

theoretical sources. Inclusion is a central concept in educational thinking and research; stratification is

a frequently used term in sociology. Two other closely related concepts are exclusion, derived from

critical political research and teachers' differential behavior, an individual-centered concept derived

from psychological approaches. The use of Social Representations Theory (SRT) enabled us to

examine everyday life situations in schools through the prisms of sociological and psychological

approaches combining the collective and individual, and facilitate a new perspective. The findings

revealed a dichotomy in school life between inclusion and stratification. The declared school ideology

was that of inclusion and of objection to exclusion and to stratification, whereas the daily discourse and

the main school practice served the purpose of stratification. To cope with these incompatible

representations, the teachers developed different kinds of camouflage strategies expressed in their

school practice and daily discourse. Their strategies helped them deal with, solve or ignore the gap

between these two goals without seemingly choosing one goal over another. 

In the discussion I argue that these strategies structure the teacher’s world in order to reduce

the discomfort arising from this incompatibility, to turn the unfamiliar to familiar and to create

camouflaged reality in which they can live.

Author Biography

Smadar Tuval, Kaye Academic College of Education, Israel

SMADAR TUVAL is the head of ACE (Active Collaborative Education), a teacher education

program for university graduates and a lecturer in the MA program for school counselors, at Kaye

Academic College of Education in Beer–Sheva, Israel. She is a graduate of Psychology,

Philosophy and Counseling with expertise in special education and behavioral problems. Her

Ph.D. thesis discusses social representations in the school system, focusing on students' inclusion 

and exclusion. Her additional research interests are: personal narratives of school graduates'

experiences and pedagogical innovations in the professional training and development of teachers

and counselors.