From the Child to the Pupil to the Child. Trust Based on Categorical Inequalities and the Quest for Alternatives Towards a More Inclusive Education

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This article discusses the function of trust as a medium of communication specialised in creating the conditions for the acceptance of educational communication, therefore in creating the conditions for the education system to fulfil its societal function. The specific contribution offered by the article is to introduce a form of trust, trust based on categorical inequalities, arguing for its pivotal role in structuring educational communication. However, the article also discusses that, to fulfil its function, that is, to generate stability and allow expectations to be constructed, trust based on categorical inequalities legitimizes self-fulfilling prophecies of academic achievements and failures. The side effects of trust based on categorical inequalities are all related to dis-trust: marginalisation, disempowerment, exclusion of some children. Based on the argument developed, the article concludes by inviting reflection on possible, more inclusive, forms of trust that are based on the replacement of the pupil, the self-reassuring as well as daunting persona generated by the semantics of education, with the child, as the internal reference of the education system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-264
Number of pages19
JournalItalian Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2019



  • Agency
  • Empowerment
  • Marginalization
  • Trust
  • Unintended consequences

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