Conference article

Inclusive citizenship of people with mild intellectual disabilities

Jaap Oltof
Political Sociology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands / Department of Social Work, Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, The Netherlands

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Published in: Proceedings from InnArbeid International Conference on work inclusion for persons with intellectual disabilities 2019, Kristiansand, Norway 23rd May 2019

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 160:5, p. 26-27

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Published: 2019-06-17

ISBN: 978-91-7685-017-6

ISSN: 1650-3686 (print), 1650-3740 (online)


Advisory bodies for Dutch government policy witnessed a growing demand for (long-term) care in the last decade, especially by people with mild intellectual disabilities (MID). This sudden rise is often explained by a so-called ‘increasing complexity’ of societal structures causing exclusion. But what does this really signify? The question arises; how is inclusion/exclusion experienced by people with MID? Where do fits or misfits occur?

We start off with the premise that everyday life activities offer important indicators for studying citizenship. Hence, we studied the lived experiences of people with MID regarding inclusive citizenship, mainly in the public domain of society. Doing groceries, getting around by public transportation, getting in contact with others or performing sports and hobbies at local initiatives are some examples. Through this scope we explored how disabilities are repressed, conquered, preserved or constructed by societal/social barriers.

Through ethnographic fieldwork 33 persons with MID were followed in a variety of daily activities (in the Netherlands). The study was set up with a co-researcher with MID and in collaboration with People’s First group ‘LFB Wolvega’. Topics of observations and interviews were related to prevailing definitions of inclusion on three levels: participation, belonging and relationships. Participation was studied through observation and interviewing. Photovoice was applied for reflection on feelings of belonging, the same way drawing and eco-mapping provided insights in relationships and networks. In addition, network members and social professionals were interviewed.


inclusive citizenship, intellectual disability, participation, stigma, relationships


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