Moving beyond In- and Exclusion: Perspectives on integral ‘transcluding’

Inclusion and exclusion are two powerful orientations that guide individuals and groups are as important as they are problematic in their one-sided orientations. Why and how to move beyond both is a daunting questions and challenge, especially in times of resurging nationalism, ongoing racism and need for a critical cosmopolitanism.

How can we get out of the entrapment of pursuing either an one-sided ‘inclusion’ following the self-centred, tribal or identitarian logic of ‘I/We-Against-the-Other’, nor the likewise unwise discriminating ‘exclusion’ logic, but how to re-open for a more integral orientation? How to avoid perpetuating the separation of insider and outsider as well as how to go beyond the simple or appropriating all-inclusion of those who are outside that ‘proudly’ knows already what including means and how it has to be done?

Inclusion and exclusion
Seperation has two sides – one-sided inclusion and discriminating exclusion. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The educationalist Gert Biesta, suggested a concept that invites both: being able to move position while also transforming the very field where positions can be held and taken thus capable of shifting the terrain. He calls this ‘transclusion’ as a a movement that changes the positions and hence identities and relationships of both outsiders and insiders, rather than leaving insiders in their place literally and metaphorically and only requiring or facilitating or demanding movement from those on the outside (Biesta 2019, chapter 7).

In integral transcluding, inclusion is no longer a process of bringing in those who are known to be excluded – that is with Rancière (1995) those who already have an identity within a given (‘police-d’) order – but is about a redistribution of the share of the sensible and redefinition of identities, places and spacesi. With such orientation inclusive efforts are no longer just directed to those who are outside of where ‘we’ are, but also affect the playing field where ‘we’ are and thus affects the identities and subject positions of all.

Thus, for Biesta ‘transclusion’ hints at an inclusive ‘gesture’ that goes in two directions at the same time and thus helps to see that inclusive ambitions and attentions not only require that ‘we’ become more open and welcoming. But rather, at the very same time, the need is acknowledge for a redefinition and repositioning of the very ‘we’ that seek to be inclusive.

‘Transclusion’ thus exposes the complicity of the good intentions upon which attempts at inclusion are often based – not to necessarily discredit such intentions, but to highlight that there is no safe and secure ground from which such intentions can be issued (ibid).

For seeing the value of such suggestion, the following discusses some critical issues with regard to inclusion and exclusion in democracies.

In- and out of the side(s) – Who is the ‘demos’ and how does it participate and express?

Knowing about identities of who is belonging to the inside or outside and positioning so-called insider and outsider in their place is part of how communities, societies and nations organise themselves. Including people, e.g. citizen into the form of rule is a value of democracy. If democracy is a form of government of, by and for the ‘demos’ people, then the same are to be included. And the very idea of participation is that those affected by democratic decision-making have to be included or have the opportunity to influence the process and outcomes.

But the question of cause is who are to be included how in defining the very ‘we’, who are part(icipating) of the demos in today’s worldii? And how to treat those who are deemed to be on the supposed or positioned ‘outside’? Moreover, how are oppressed and marginalized people included as full and equal citizens in our world?

How much equality is given (in- or excluded) in liberal democracy in which certain set of basic liberties take priority over popular rule so that the latter one does not restrain or obstruct individual freedom?

How excluding is a democracy that deems some not being ‘fit’ for democracy, as they are lacking ‘sub- or pre-rational’ requirements, that is either because they lack certain qualities that are considered to be fundamental for democratic participation – such as rationality or reasonableness – or because they do not subscribe to the ideal of democracy itself?

What are the entry conditions for participation in (regulated) deliberationiii, with its normative idea(l)s of relations and dispositions of deliberating parties, (e.g. inclusion, equality, reasonableness, and publicity)?

If we understand deliberation not just a form of political decision-making but first and foremost a form of political communication, then the critical questions is who is able to participate effectively in deliberating practically?

Overcome both external and internal exclusion by welcoming being democratic!

While the first one is about “how people are [actually] kept outside the process of discussion and decision-making, the second is a situation where the people are formally included in decision-making processes but experience “their claims are not taken seriously and may believe that they are not treated with equal respect” (Young 2000, p. 55) thus “lack effective opportunity to influence the thinking of others even when they have access to fora and procedures of decision-making” (ibid.).

demonstration sign democracy
For an inclusive democraticy people have to be involved in the decision-making process. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

What helps overcoming internal exclusion according to Young is making democracy more welcoming that is using political communication that publically acknowledges e.g. by communicative political recognizing gestures towards others, who differ in opinion, interest, or position, as included in the debate or being affirmative to different forms of expression (not try to purify rational argument from rhetoric) to articulate claims and arguments in ways appropriate to a particular public in a particular situation (ibid. p. 67). This implies an understanding of rhetoric as an expression that always accompanies an argument by situating it “for a particular audience and giving it embodied style and tone” (ibid. p. 79).

Besides publically acknowledging, and inviting gestures and allowing affirmative rhetoric another import form of political communication is narrative or storytelling.

According to Young, the main function of narrative in democratic communication lies in its potential “to foster understanding among members of a polity with very different experience or assumptions about what is important” (ibid. p. 71).. “Inclusive democratic communication,” so she argues, “assumes that all participants have something to teach the public about the society in which they dwell together” and also assumes “that all participants are ignorant of some aspects of the social or natural world, and that everyone comes to a political conflict with some biases, prejudices, blind spots, or stereo-types” (ibid. p. 77)

From democracy to democratisation

Whereas in the prevailing discourse democracy is seen as something that can be permanent and normal, Rancière argues for an understanding of democracy as sporadic, as something that only ‘happens’ from time to time and in very particular situations (see Rancière 1995, p.41; p.61). For him democracy is not a normal situation, but occurs in the interruption of the order in the name of equality.

This point is related to an important distinction in Rancière’s writings, namely between politics (which for him always means democratic politics; democracy as “the institution of politics itself,” as he puts it – Rancière 1999, p. 101), and what he refers to as police or police order. In a way which is reminiscent of Foucault, Rancière defines the police as “an order of bodies that defines the allocation of ways of doing, ways of being, and ways of saying, and that sees that those bodies are assigned by name to a particular place and task” (Rancière 1999, p. 29). It as an order “of the visible and the sayable that sees that a particular activity is visible and another is not, that this speech is understood as discourse and another as noise” (ibid.).

Police should not be understood as the way in which the state structures the life of society. It is not, in Habermasian terms, the ‘grip’ of the system on the lifeworld, but includes both system and lifeworld. As Rancière explains, “the distribution of places and roles that defines a police regime stems as much from the assumed spontaneity of social relations as from the rigidity of state functions” (ibid.). One way to read this definition of police is to think of it as an order that is all-inclusive in that everyone has a particular place, role or position in it. This is not to say that everyone is included in the running of the order. The point simply is that no one is excluded from the order. After all, women, children, slaves and immigrants had a clear place in the democracy of Athens, namely as those who were not allowed to participate in political decision making. In precisely this respect every police order is all-inclusive.

Against this background Rancière then defines politics as the disruption of the police order in the name of or with reference to the idea of equality. Rancière reserves the term ‘politics’ “for an extremely determined activity antagonistic to policing: whatever breaks with the tangible configuration whereby parties and parts or lack of them are defined by a presupposition that, by definition, has no place in that configuration” (ibid., pp.30-31).

This break is manifest is a series of actions “that reconfigure the space where parties, parts, or lack of parts have been defined.” (ibid. p.31). Political activity so conceived is “whatever shifts a body from the place assigned to it” (ibid.). “It makes visible what had no business being seen, and makes heard a discourse where once there was only place for noise.” (ibid.). Political activity is always a mode of expression that undoes the perceptible divisions of the police order by implementing a basically heterogenous assumption, that of a part of those who have no part, an assumption that, at the end of the day, itself demonstrates the sheer contingency of the order [and] the equality of any speaking being with any other speaking being. (ibid). Politics thus refers to the event when two ‘heterogeneous processes’ meet: the police process and the process of equality (see ibid.).

For Rancière political identity, as democratic subjects only comes into being in and through the act of disruption of the police order.

Politics is itself a process of subjectification a process in and through which political subjects are constituted. Rancière defines this subjectification as “the production through a series of actions of a body and a capacity for enunciation not previously identifiable within a given field of experience, whose identification is thus part of the reconfiguration of the field of experience” (Rancière 1999, p.35).

Appearances of democracy are a creation of a group as group with a particular identity that didn’t exist before. “Democracy is the designation of subjects that do not coincide with the parties of the state or of society” (ibid. pp. 99-100).

diversity of people
Diverse people form a group and thus a society. Photo by Mario Purisic on Unsplash

Accordingly, democratisation is not a process that emanates from the centre and extends to the margins. It is not a process in which those who are already democratic include others into their sphere. Democratisation for Rancière is not something that is done to others – bring ‘them’ into ‘our’ democratic order, but a process that people can only do themselves. Rather democracy appears as a claim from the ‘outside,’ a claim based upon the perception of injustice, or of what Rancière refers to as a ‘wrong’ – and, moreover, a claim made in the name of and with reference to the idea of equality. And the crucial difference here is that those who make the claim do not simply want to be included in the existing order; they want to redefine the order in such a way that new identities, new ways of doing and being become possible and can be ‘counted.’

This means that for Rancière democratisation is no longer a process of inclusion of excluded parties into the existing order; it rather is a transformation of that order in the name of equality. The impetus for this transformation does not come from the inside but rather from the outside. But it is important to see that, unlike in the prevailing discourse about democratic inclusion, this outside is not a ‘known’ outside. Democratisation is, after all, not a process that happens within the police order in which it is perfectly clear who are taking part in decision-making and who are not. Democratisation is a process that disrupts the existing order from a place that could not be expressed or articulated from within this order, which reveals another important aspect of Rancière’s analysis, in that he shows that  in addition to the struggle for inclusion of those who are known to be excluded there is also a need for a struggle for inclusion of those who cannot yet be conceived to be excluded, precisely because the lack an identity – and hence a way to speak and be – in the existing police order and it is here, as I will suggest below, that the concept of ‘transclusion’ seeks to be a marker of this difference.

An integral transclusion trans-Forms the field of the possibilities and reconfigures capabilities and capacities of what and how something can be sensed, felt, seen, heard, thought, said or otherwise expressed.

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Article by Prof. Dr. Wendelin Küpers, Professor of Leadership and Organization Studies and Head of Degree Program of the new master course Leadership – Politics, Philosophy & Economics (M.A.) 

Biesta, G.J.J. (2019). Transclusion: Overcoming the Tension between Inclusion and Exclusion in the Discourse on Democracy and Democratisation Obstinate education: Reconnecting school and society. Leiden: Brill | Sense.
Rancière, J. [1995] Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Rancière, J. (2004). The politics of aesthetics. The Distribution of the Sensible. London: Continuum.
Rancière, J. (2010) Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics, London: Continuum.
Young, I.M. (2000). Inclusion and Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

i For Rancière (1999, 2004) this involves aesthetic ruptures, challenging the ‘share of the sensible’ that defines the respective places and the parts therein’. This implies questioning those which are understood to be sensible voices and claims and are marginalized, and then reconfiguring the landscape of what can be seen and what can be thought (or is thinkable), to alter the field of possible and the distribution of capacities and incapacities in organizations. Following Ranciere’s Dissensus orientatio (2010) this implies a re-arrangement of political order and of the different regimes of perceptual part-taking, which determine what can count as perception, experience or sense, also collectively, that is modifying a sensory framework distinguishing the visible from the invisible, the sayable from the unsayable, the audible from the inaudible, the possible from the impossible

ii Today’s participants are certainly different than those who counted as citizen in ancient city-states, who were free Athenian men over the age of 20 and not women, children, slaves who made up about 60% of the population and immigrants, who even lived for generations in the polis.

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