The “social” in social pedagogy dr. Špela Razpotnik
Summary: In the introduction to this article, some of the basic elements of social pedagogy are presented: life-space orientation, resources-based orientation, its dialogical approach, and the reflexive relation toward its own interventions. A discussion follows about the dichotomy between the tendency of individuals to adapt to existing conditions and the requirements for questioning the status quo. Social pedagogy conceptualizes the embodiment of the individual in its community and follows the assumptions of the interactional nature of identity. Similarly, it follows the idea that efforts toward improving the individual status of the user are pointless if the social environment is not reflected and the individual role is not exposed within in a wider structure. Some terms enforced by the legislation in certain contexts of social pedagogic expertise and application, such as in educational contexts, appear contradictory to the above assumptions. Terminology such as “emotional and behavioural disorders” individualizes problems while it misses the interactional and systemic nature of specific phenomena. Any intervention, be it incorporated within the educational context, social care, or informal networks, is effectuated through a live interaction with others. The neoliberal concept of individual responsibility, which claims that despite different starting conditions, an individual is solely responsible for his/ her decisions and, consequently, for his/her own success or failure, is limited particularly in the sense that it does not give any space to the social context. It also suppresses the assumption that human activity is linked inherently to relationships with others. In this view, the article presents a concept of relational citizenship and shared responsibility. This latter brings us back to concepts in social pedagogy that emphasize the importance of the embodiment of the individual in the social context.