Participation in terms of belonging to this AND that

Saturday, November 2, 2013
First author:
Mieke Cardol
Participation: Belonging Together

1 Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
2 NIVEL (Netherlands institute for health services research), Utrecht, the Netherlands

All authors:


Mieke Cardol 1,2
participation, transition, identity


Participation in society is often associated with activities (doing) and a distinction between two groups: participants and nonparticipants. The late Gilles Deleuze was interested in the idea of becoming and in a way of thinking that does not separate into categories. The aim of this paper is to explore the insights of Deleuze related to the participation of five people with an intellectual disability and visual impairment.


Participatory observation in the homes and workplaces of the respondents.


The respondents seem to participate in the small world of a care institution, with special care and adaptations. Using the insights of Deleuze, it becomes clear that they are also involved in activities ‘in between’. Charley for example experiences an afternoon of pleasure with a friend who has a guide dog for the blind, when they secretly travel to another town. Albert dreams of studying theology; he weekly visits a bible course. Charley and Albert break open the known order and create new ways of being. This is not easy one person has difficulty realizing her dreams.


Deleuzes’ theory helps to look at the participation of people with disabilities from a dynamic viewpoint and in the light of possibilities instead of from the static viewpoint of disabilities. Their participation is as complex as others’ and includes activities that go beyond the categories of participants and nonparticipants. Safe and smooth places help people to become. Becoming in fact is being this AND that. Discontinuity and indefiniteness are characteristics of becoming.