The Other Side of Belonging

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It is generally accepted that all humans have a profound need to belong and that a sense of ‘belonging together’ is a prerequisite for creating political communities. Many of our existing models for this ‘first person plural’ fail to fully account for the increased global mobility of persons which can all too often result in serial attachments at a superficial level or the problems that can arise with a growing fragility of all belonging. This article looks at the other side of belonging: failure to belong - either through the loss of a sense of belonging (not-belonging) or the removal of membership belonging (unbelonging) – and the resulting damage that might occur. This can have profound implications for what happens in schools where one of the accepted major functions has always been to develop and nurture belonging in children: to each other, to the school and within the wider society. But the general assumption that most children enter schools at a neutral stage of the belonging spectrum ready to be developed and nurtured towards citizenship belonging may no longer hold and we may need to explore new ways as to how this might be achieved.

© 2020, The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See
Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in Philosophy and Education
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2020


  • Not-belonging; Unbelonging; Citizenship belonging; Sport protests; Windrush; Brexit

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