What good life?- looking for belonging on the fringes

Mr Benjamin Garcia-lee1

1UNSW, Kensington, Australia

One of the real-world problems of today is the continuous discrimination, marginalisation and lack of social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. Social inclusion remains a key policy objective, yet; justice, education, health and economic outcomes remain poor for many community members with intellectual disabilities. The impact of  marginalisation is more acute for people with intellectual disabilities who are experiencing multiple and intersecting forms of social exclusion. This doctoral research investigates whether understanding marginalised people with intellectual disabilities’ experiences of belonging, might provide a conceptual key to formulating new policy and practice perspectives on social inclusion in Australia.

A systematic literature review conducted as part of the presenters PhD research, utilising the literatures of belonging, intersectionality and marginality, from a range of disciplines.

The review identifies the potential contribution of the concepts of belonging and intersectionality, in critical disability discourses, in relation to understanding the lived experience of marginalised people with intellectual disabilities.

Understanding belonging from an interdisciplinary perspective has the potential to constructively challenge conventional binary discourses of social inclusion/exclusion. Discourses of belonging could have methodological, philosophical and social impact utility when trying to understand the experiences of people with intellectual disability faced with the challenges of intersectional marginality.


Benjamin’s doctoral research is a qualitative study considering belonging in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities experiencing intersectional marginalisation. He is a social worker and sociologist with 15 years experience in the government and NGO sectors. He has spent the last 7 years working with people with intellectual disabilities

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