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Educação & Realidade

versão impressa ISSN 0100-3143versão On-line ISSN 2175-6236

Educ. Real. vol.42 no.4 Porto Alegre out./dez. 2017 


The Game of Warranties of Disabled People Social Rights

Reginaldo Célio SobrinhoI 

Maria das Graças Silva Carvalho de SáI 

Edson PantaleãoI 

IUniversidade Federal do Espírito Santo (UFES), Vitória/ES - Brazil


The article discusses the relative strength of special needs education institutions in a social game for the achievement of disabled people social rights. It is an ethnographic research and has the game model, developed by Elias (2005) as its main foundation. The centrality of special needs education institutions in the context of inclusive education policies is based on two interdependent devices: 1) the production and dissemination of knowledge on the intervention methods with people living with disabilities, under a medical-clinical perspective, and 2) the assistentialist side of economic and political liberalism.

Keywords: Special Needs Education; Game Model; Special Needs Education Institutions


Discute a força relativa das instituições especializadas em Educação Especial no jogo social de concretização dos direitos sociais das pessoas com deficiência. Segue as orientações teórico-metodológicas da pesquisa do tipo etnográfico e assume o modelo de jogo, elaborado por Elias (2005), como principal fundamento. Observamos que a centralidade dessas instituições especializadas no contexto das políticas de educação inclusiva fundamenta-se em dois dispositivos interdependentes: 1) a produção e a disseminação do conhecimento sobre os modos de intervenção com as pessoas em situação de deficiência, numa perspectiva médico-clínica, e 2) a face assistencialista do liberalismo econômico e político que orientou a consolidação do Estado Moderno.

Palavras-chave: Educação Especial; Modelo de Jogo; Instituições Especializadas


In our recent studies, we have intended to understand the development of policies for access and permanence of disabled people in regular education, offered in K-12 and/or Higher Education public state schools. In these studies, we have acted alongside the public management assuming some topics related to the following interfaces: special needs education and health, special needs education and adult and youth education, as well as the funding policies of special needs education that guarantee access of disabled and/or with global development disorders students to the various levels and stages of schooling.

We have followed Elias’ work and, particularly, the game model (Elias, 2005) as an interesting theoretical approach that can contribute for the advance of the ways how the questions related to the field of special needs education in the Brazilian territory have been studied. This theoretical interest is supported, basically, on the Marchi Júnior’s indications (2003) when affirming that to study the development of human inter-relations according to the terms or under the logic of a game, as presented by Elias (2005), can help us to better understand the most complex or invisible social mechanisms of competition in the recent societies. After all, in Elias (2005), as well as in the society, in the game the players are in a continuous movement, guided by levels of interdependence, multipolarity of tensions and power relations (Marchi Júnior, 2003).

Assuming the game model as a peculiar way to understand the tensions lived in the development of policies for access and permanence of disabled people in regular education, some Eliasian aspects and assumptions need to be considered. Among these aspects, the notions of rules, functional interdependences and order and disorder relation take over a significant relevance.

Elias (2005) considers that, just like in the game, human relations - including the tensions and conflicts that emerge from them - are guided by rules. However, the ambivalent movement of/in human inter-relations implies considering that these rules are not invariable properties; they form and are formed during the game. In other words, rules are (re) constructed and/or resignified in the flow of the tensions that, in the course of interdependences, can favor a specific group to start disputing the power of coercion exerted by the other group with which it keeps relation.

Articulated to this notion of rules and/or norms of the game, Elias (2005) tells us of the order and disorder relation (or continuum). According to the author’s perspective, in the same way as to speak of conflicts and tensions in human inter-relations, we need to identify aspects of the norms and rules that support them, as well as to consider that these conflicts and tensions present a structure and a regularity and, in this sense, disorder and chaos must be referred to, merely, as an expression of a specific order.

For the author, an investigative work that intends to understand (and to explain) aspects of the social scene from the game model needs to consider the disorder as an expression of aspects of the order, and not take order and disorder as a contradictory or irreconcilable pair. More precisely, Elias (2005, p. 82) tells us of the order, understanding it in the development of human inter-relations. Thus, in the author’s words, “[…] decadence and destruction have their place as processes structured side by side with growth and death and disintegration side by side with birth and integration […]”.

It is worth considering that, in the Eliasian perspective, affirming the existence of a certain structure and regularities in the relations of the groups does not mean conceiving such relations as a substance that transcends the individuals and that could be thought as something supra-individual or, yet, conceiving that, on the other hand, the regularity and the structure of the relations can be searched in nature or conscience of the individuals in itself, before any relation. In the Eliasian sense, the regularities and the structure of human relations would be what makes it possible for us to understand, for instance, how and why, even when a person is distant from the others in a desert island, the gestures that s/he makes, as well as her/his way of understanding and dealing with this specific situation are linked to the relations that s/he previously had with other people.

This perspective supports a third aspect that needs to be considered when we apply the game model to the study of human inter-relations. These are the reciprocal functions experienced by the individuals and interdependent groups.

In Elias’ perspective, in a social figuration, just like as in the game, it is impossible to understand and/or explain the attitudes and the actions of a group from itself, disregarding the plans and goals of the other group. After all, “[…] the movements of a group establish the movements of the other group and vice versa […]” (Elias, 2005, p. 83).

In this sense, in a game, the adversaries become increasingly interdependent, developing a reciprocal function. That is, the antagonism experienced in the inter-relations must be understood as a functional interdependence, as a link established between individuals and groups in play. This emerging link forms sense and meaning for the game itself, impacting on the personal choices, drawing the possibilities of plays, establishing a continuous process of power chances distribution between partners and, also, between adversaries. Thus, for Elias (2005, p. 83), in a game “[…] the interdependence of human beings, due to their hostility is not a relation less functional than what is due to their position as friends, allies and specialists […]”. Considering that, for Elias, the function concept is opposed to the structural-functionalist approaches, that, in synthesis, omit the processual, reciprocal, bipolar and multipolar character of social functions, in the study of the human inter-relations from the game model, the word interpenetration seems extremely convenient, as it indicates, immediately, the development of the functional reciprocal relations established between individuals and groups in figuration.

As we have initially shown, we have searched in these theoretical indications for some elements that help us to understand the tensions experienced in the development of policies for access and permanence of disabled people in regular education implemented in the recent societies. To this respect, it is worth considering that the studies and debates developed in the Brazilian territory between 2010 and 2013, as a result of the elaboration and approval of the new National Education Plan6, search to problematize the social pertinence of the special needs education institutions in the provision of schooling to disabled people. Attempting to contribute with this problematization, we gathered, in this text, data from a recently concluded research, aiming to discuss some aspects of the relative force7 of the special needs education institutions in a social game whose rules and structure may indicate the achievement of disabled people social rights.

In our reflections, we claim that the centrality of the special needs education institutions in the context of inclusive education policies in the recent societies is due to two interdependent devices that constitute the social game of this process: 1) the production and dissemination of knowledge on the ways of intervention with the people in a disabling situation, under a medical-clinical perspective, and 2) the assistentialist side of economic and political liberalism that guided the consolidation of the Modern State. In our understanding, both devices are supported by the dichotomy individual and society and, therefore, envision that the individual - a homo clausus8, who exists before and independently of the inter-relations - must be served in his particularity.

Thus, by means of the interdependence of these devices, the understanding that hunger, illness, poverty and disability form accidental situations or conditions in the course of the development of liberal societies is reaffirmed. Finally, normality and abnormality, inclusion and exclusion constitute opposing poles that, characterizing specific moments of life in society, can only be resolved by means of the democracy generated/elaborated in the social institutions, proper of the Modern State.

In a specific historic course, these formulations have been considered in reference for the elaboration of public policies that, responding strictly to the social demands, kept the precepts of individualization, competitiveness and training for productivity - essential values for the Modern State support. However, we work in the perspective that, effectively, what we experience are contradictory and conciliating processes that shape the rules of the game in societies established on State liberal assumptions. In other words, in our understanding, exclusion and abnormality are categories generated and legitimated in a wider process of inclusion and normality. Therefore, they constitute conjunctural, not accidental aspects. We discuss these issues better in the following sections, immersing into the flow of data resulting from the research developed.

Theoretical-Methodological Orientation

Recently, we concluded, within the scope of our research group, the study Políticas de Educação Especial no Espírito Santo: questões atravessadoras na relação instituição especializada e escola comum [Special needs education policies in Espírito Santo: crossing questions in the relation between special needs education institution and regular school]. This study aimed to analyze the educational policy of service practiced in special needs education institutions in the state of Espírito Santo.

Following the ethnographic research theoretical-methodological orientation, we sought to promote a direct contact with the investigation field by means of devices that would expand our look on the processes and relations that have been established there. We focused on the connections that narrated the social processes, diverting from investigative monodisciplinary perspectives, widely disseminated by Modern Sciences. Indeed, the major concern of the ethnographic type of research is the meaning that the actions and the events have for the studied people and groups. It is in this sense that, for André (1995, p. 29), in this approach the “[…] researcher must try to learn and to portray the personal view of the participant”.

In this attempt, under the theoretical-methodological orientation of the ethnographic type of research, our analyses considered the historical moment and the distinct inter-relations or social figurations in which a specific knowledge emerged; we assumed that the “[…] distinct types of knowledge are correlated with specific differences in the situation of the societies where they are produced and used […]” (Elias, 1998, p. 33). Furthermore, in Elias, knowledge is the process of construction (and consolidation) of the set of symbols shared by people in a specific group. By means of these symbols, people link to each other and signify the reality enhancing beliefs, values and attitudes that guide their emotions, affection and impulses. Thus, following Gutiérrez (2004, p. 155), in Elias, “[…] knowledge is not the result of the work of an isolated ‘I’ that started from zero, but a process of learning of a ‘we’ consolidated along the time”. In other words, knowledge is not, in no way, a timeless and ahistorical activity; it is a long-term process that has a collective character (Gutiérrez, 2004).

Another characteristic of this theoretical-methodological approach, closely linked with Processual Sociology indications, developed by Norbert Elias, is related to the fact that such investigative perspective intends not only to describe and interpret the reality, but also to propose possible changes based on information and data that emerge during the study. Thus, by means of this theoretical-methodological (re)orientation, we escape from a reductionist perspective of knowledge that takes the subject in a vacuum of I without we, you or they. We transit, therefore, from the image of the Homo clausus to the image of the Homines aperti, supporting the understanding that “[…] the concept of individual refers to interdependent people, and the concept of society to interdependent people in plural […]” (Elias, 2005, p. 136).

The subjects of these research were: members of the pedagogical staff of special needs education institutions (pedagogical coordinator, pedagogue, supervisor); teachers and clinical professionals who work in the special needs education institutions; professionals from financial resources management and/or presidents of the special needs education institutions; and family members (father, mother or guardian) of the people benefited by the services of the special needs education institutions. Forty-six special needs education institutions participated of the study, being 26 Associações de Pais e Amigos dos Excepcionais (APAE) and 20 Pestalozzi, located in different regions of the state. As a way of territorial organization for the data collection, we assumed the regional division, proposed by the State Department of Education (SEDU), in eleven Regional Superintendence of Education (SRE)9, in which we grouped the investigated institutions. In the dynamics of data collection, focus groups, questionnaires, visits to the special needs education institutions, collective semi-structured interviews, and study of documents were used.

Sharing Our Perceptions…

Analyzing the main outcomes of the undertaken study from the game model allowed us to systemize some observations that base our perception concerning the centrality of the special needs education institutions in the context of inclusive education policies in the Brazilian territory. An initial observation refers to the implications of the production and dissemination of a specific social knowledge that guides the ways of intervention with disabled people, based on a medical-clinical perspective. This is evidenced in the various manifestations from the participants of the study, overall when they spoke about the importance of the clinical services offered by the special needs education institutions; they recurrently demanded the expansion of the working hours for these services. For instance, in the collective interview in APAE 10, a psychologist emphasized: “[…] The physiotherapist is the only one who works here under a 20-hour contract. Me, I have a contract of 12 hours per week. During this period, I have meetings with the team, I advise the teachers and I serve the students, only fortnightly […]”.

During the focus group developed in Pestalozzi 5, a physiotherapist told us about the dynamics of the services rendered by her:

[…] Pestalozzi’s president went to the city government and they signed an agreement. They would provide my services here and the whole equipment would be from the Institution with funding that they would obtain. […] The city government agreed. Here I would serve both the institution and the community. I would need to be with the students 2, 3 times per week. However, in fact, due to the demand, I should be taking care of the Institution only (Physiotherapist, Pestalozzi 5, 2011).

In the same direction, a teacher trained in special needs education who works in Pestalozzi 5 commented:

[…] The service is precarious. The demand is quite big. Pestalozzi assembled the whole clinic, obtained the equipment. The city government hired the professional to serve, initially, Pestalozzi students. But now the priority is the city and later the students from Pestalozzi (Teacher, Pestalozzi 5, 2011).

In terms of structure and work conditions, the participants resented the lack of materials, time and more appropriate spaces more to address the educational demands of disabled people. During the collective interview, the pedagogical coordinator of Pestalozzi 9 highlighted: this is our biggest problem nowadays, because we need a professional specific for the institution. But the service that needs to be more often than once a week, we do it once only.

Considering the dynamics of the work she develops, a speech therapist who works in APAE 15 (2011) made the following comment:

[…] I have students who will not have any benefit with the service […] I have to choose, to favor the care for those who will benefit, for those who really need service. Presently, I care for the students in one morning. In the rest of the week, I have the demands from the city.

In the data set, we observe that, in the perception of the various participants of this research, the medical work should have a protagonism in the decision process on the school life of the subjects, the target group of special needs education. In several situations, the medical report is the decision and identification tool on the eligible public for the special needs education. In APAE 3, a social worker (2011) clarified us concerning this in the following words:

[…] One must have the medical report. Preferably, we request a report from a neurologist. […] sometimes the school also refers straight to a doctor. From the medical record, s/he already comes here and can be served and followed-up.

Considering these perceptions, it seems important to observe the set of clinical services provided in the special needs education institutions, participants of our inquiry. We systemized these information in Graph 1 below. When analyzing it, we can notice that 91.3% of the institutions offer speech therapy and physiotherapy, being these the most frequently mentioned specificities. Next, we notice that 65.2% offer psychological care; 43.4% provide social work care; dentistry is offered by 26% of the institutions; 21.7% provide occupational therapy; 17.3% offer neurological care; 10.8% have pediatric services; 8.6% provide hippotherapy. In the remaining 4.3% of the institutions the following clinical specialties are offered: hydrotherapy, nutrition and neuro-pediatrics. Finally, 2.1% offer the following specialties and services: orthopedy, medicine, psycho-pedagogy, orthostatic board, endocrinology, genetics, early stimulation and children’s psychiatry.

Source: Data systemized by the authors

Graph 1 Clinical Specialties provided by the Institutions 

Historically, not without a reason, the medical-clinical perspective reached legitimacy in the care to the demands of disabled people. When observing the debates and claims of the participants of the research, we perceive arguments that support the belief that the clinical field professionals are the most skilled ones to identify the services and follow-ups that, indeed, disabled people need to guarantee their development and their social participation. These aspects can help us to better understand the expectation shared among the participants of the research and who work in special needs education institutions, constituting a very specific figuration in the flow of interdependences that narrate the legitimation process of these institutions in the care of disabled people demands. For them, the amount of work hours aimed to the clinical care in the special needs education institution needs to be expanded, also to guarantee the address to the demands of the local community. This is what is revealed, for instance, in the following statement: […] The service is precarious. The demand is quite big […] (Physiotherapist, Pestalozzi 5, 2011); […] we need a professional specific for the institution (Speech therapist, APAE 15, 2011).

We consider it highly important to guarantee health services to the population, what does not allow us to advocate for the idea that these services should be provided by philanthropic private institutions. In our understanding, this perspective evidences the assistentialist side of economic and political liberalism that guided the consolidation of the Modern State, enrolling elements that naturalize the fact that the health services made available to disabled people are restricted to the work of speech therapists, physiotherapists and psychologists, as it can be observed in Graph 1 above. Even more, given the work conditions of these specialists in the philanthropic institutions, we also naturalized the selection of those people who can be served, that is, of those who, indeed, will benefit with these services. On the other hand, when we look once again to Graph 1, we will notice that, paradoxically, several other health professionals are out of the scene. However, we would need their protagonism in the care for severely compromised subjects.

In the claims of the participants of this study, we also observed that the knowledge that guides the interventions developed by the professionals who work in these institutions legitimize the low expectations concerning the educability of disabled people. In the interview accomplished in Pestalozzi 7, a participant emphasized: With their work (Pestalozzi’s), she (the daughter) improved a lot. It was rewarding. […] My daughter goes to school, more for the inclusion, because she doesn’t have any learning capacity […] (Mother, Pestalozzi 7, 2011). In another moment, we registered the following comment from one of the family members who were participants of our study: […] you should ask to the parents how their children are. It is necessary to skill the teacher, to study the pupils. Starting from 6 to7- year-olds, as when they are older it is not worth attending school (Mother, APAE 15, 2011).

Another family member says:

[…] my son had a huge regression when he went to regular school because the teachers were not prepared to receive these students. […] those teachers from here (referring to the special needs education institution) are the ones who are skilled to receive the students. They are the ones who have more affection, give more attention […] (Mother, APAE 8, 2011).

It is based on this belief that family members, participants of this research, advocated for the locus of the special needs education institution as the only possibility of education for their son/daughter. One of the participants of the collective interview developed in Pestalozzi 3 (2011) claimed: I assign the development of my son to the teacher who already worked in APAE and is working in the regular school.

A third observation pertinent to the discussion that we develop in this text is related to the performance of the state in the guarantee of social rights of disabled people. From the accounts of the participants of the research, we observe that, in a social game, in places where these institutions are an (exclusive) space of welcoming and care to those subjects whose condition demands a more specific and systematic support, the special needs education institutions find their financial survival in the public subvention.

According to a professional who works in APAE 13 (2011), the special needs education institutions have been taking over the role that should belong to the Municipal, State and Federal Public Powers.

Because the one who has that to take care of us, indeed, this is a matter of the Municipal, Federal, State government, we know that. But as we still believe in solidarity, in fraternity, we see that it really needs - funding and land to build.

In the data set collected, we observe that, in general, the public management implements social inclusion policies for disabled people, establishing agreements, contracts and/or partnerships with the special needs education institutions. In the focus group, a professional who works in APAE 12 (2011) highlighted that the institution has a partnership with the City Department of Health: The speech therapist and the physiotherapist are from the health department, the psychologist and the social worker are from APAE.

Concerning the partnerships and agreements with the public power, a professional from APAE 19 (2011) said: We have two agreements with the social work department aimed to the payment of professionals from the clinical field and the workshop facilitator. Another profile refers to the partnership with the National Unified Health System (SUS).

In this case, APAE 21 is a little bit different from the other APAEs, because we have an accreditation with SUS, both for the Guthrie test and the Order 365 for services through SUS. Thus, there is the accreditation with SUS, which is what supports the institution. […]. Five years ago, we began to invest in the institution and then we built the new clinic, the new laboratory […] (Speech therapist, APAE 21, 2011).

This participant emphasized that the partnership warranties the provision of free of cost services to the population, after all, if […] the Department of Health does not provide, they need us […]. The practice of the transfer of public resources to private special needs education institutions for the attendance to the demands of disabled people is strengthened by one movement in which the State re-dimensions its performance in this process, legitimizing the competition for the public resources between different sectors of the civil society. The systemized data reveal that the agreements, the contracts and the covenants established between the public administration and the special needs education institutions still are woven in a context where, recurrently, their responsibilities are confused, what leads to the gradual distancing of the State from its role within the scope of assistance and health, delegating this function to the philanthropic private institutions and to certain sectors of the civil society (Kassar, 1998).

The Centrality of the Special Needs Education Institutions in the Game of Warranties of Disabled People Social Rights

The attempt to understand the relative force of the special needs education institutions, in a game aimed to the achievement of disabled people social rights, supposes to consider that, historically, the production of a specific space dedicated to the welcoming and the education of disabled people emerged, gradually, as a result of a great effervescence of Knowledge in the field of medical and psychological sciences, concomitant to a specific process of tensions and conflicts that marked the power chances distribution between governing and governed. Not by chance, on behalf of relatively impersonal principles and ideals that related to the improvement of life conditions of the population, the assistentialist side of the State emerged as a justifying foundation of the Modern State constitution and consolidation (Eduardo; Egry, 2010).

In the case studied by us, it seems that the processing of the game kept assuming a relative autonomy in face of the plans and the actions of those who, in interdependence, maintained and created the game. In a not planned historical course, the actions and ideas of the parents and the clinical or educational professionals had been coated with specific meanings that, most of the times and not without conflicts, followed the order of the developed social game. It is worth considering, here, that some aspects of the economic liberalism took over increasingly more evident meaning and force, giving precedence and centrality to the logic of the capitalist mode of production in the social game of individual choices. This dynamic designed, significantly, the interdependence of people and social institutions.

Thus, in several situations, the course of the game got out of the control of any of the implied players, basically those more interested in the results of conflicts and clashes undertaken concerning the production of a place for the development of formative-educational activities of disabled people.

On the other hand, considering that, in a historical long-term course, from the order and disorder relation (or continuum) emerge a structure and a regularity, we observe that, in the scope of various state-nations, innovative ways of the civil society were conceived and consolidated to answer to the demands of this population, particularly organizing the provision of educative-formatives spaces and services under the bias of the philanthropy.

As we have emphasized, we reiterate that a major aspect in this process refers to the production and dissemination of knowledge on the educational possibilities of disabled people. In the Brazilian case, the repercussion was stronger for the knowledge produced based on a clinical and psychological approach that, in quite a peculiar way, supported/articulated to the private and public continuum, enrolled elements that assigned centrality, without precedence, to the solidary and charity perspective in the treatment of those who are socially excluded.

In this debate, it seems important to consider that, in the Brazilian territory, the consolidation of philanthropy in the education of disabled people was more explicit along the 20th century, when the protective State continued in the attempt to provide the basic conditions of life to the population (Jannuzzi, 2004). In that context, among other issues, the low state investment in resources and structures facilitating the inclusive processes of disabled people contributed significantly for the civil society to be convinced that the educational work junto alongside this group of people should be configured as state and civil benevolence or, in the best-case scenario, as an assistentialist policy. In our understanding, the individual choices gained a delineation and a very specific direction, and, gradually, the special needs education institutions took over centrality and absolute social pertinence in this process.

However, along the 20th century, diverse groups of individuals had access to the established centers of power and, in recent years, the resignification of the knowledge on disability has produced more positive expectations in relation to the educability of people in this condition. Recurrently, these tensions have been marking the pertinence of the debates on the access, the permanence and the learning of disabled people in the context of the regular school.

If, on the one hand, this movement has contributed for the affirmation of special needs education institutions as an instance that searches to promote the social participation of disabled people, on the other, it also has contributed to the strengthening of analyses that allow to disabled people, their family members and professionals from different areas of knowledge, including those who work in these institutions, to present questionings on the nature of the provided services, the assumptions of human development that delineate their educational work and, even, the place that these institutions occupy in the process of legitimation of a model of State that is, par excellence, regulator and contractual in the industrial society.

Considering the perspective that, in the course of the social game, the rules are (re) constructed and/or resignified in the flow of the experienced tensions, we believe that, in one way or another, the inter-relations established between parents, clinical, and educational professionals have contributed for the re-dimensioning of the relative force of the special needs education institutions in recent societies from referents/rules that are produced in the flow of this process. Not without reason, as we observed in our research, the discursive practices present in special needs education institutions reiterate the fragilities in the school inclusion policies to justify their social pertinence in the present times.

Thinking Special Needs Education in the Social Game: final remarks

Assuming risks, dilemmas and challenges resulting from an investigative work that understands knowledge as a historical and social process of which we participate, either in the maintenance and the continuity of a certain perspective, either in the transformation, rupture and/or resignification of its meanings, we searched, by means of the study focused in this text, to participate of the history that we build with the others. In this sense, it is worth reiterating, in the Eliasian words, that “[…] each human being, as a subject of knowledge, must be able to say ‘we’ as much as ‘I’ to become human […]” (Elias, 1998, p. 34).

The reflections resulting from the study that we developed alongside the special needs education institutions in the state of Espírito Santo, Brazil, made it possible to observe the overlapping of clinical services in relation to the educational ones, legitimized by the sharing of a specific social knowledge that understands disability from itself, or from the individual himself who carries it, a Homo clausus, who exists before and independently of human inter-relations. Along the study, we observed a permanent and increasing re-dimensioning of the state responsibilities in the scope of the guarantee of disabled people social rights in the field of schooling. It is highlighted here the financial support from the public administration to these private special needs education institutions that, relatively speaking, work where the State cannot reach, expanding the provision of educational services to disabled and/or with global development disorders students.

This is how, in this game, supported on the assumptions of the right to individual choices and corroborating the most perverse precepts of the economic liberalism, among other important aspects, the assistentialist side of the Modern State makes the civil society accountable for the guarantee of these social rights. It is included, in this process, the public funding for philanthropic institutions and/or for the third sector whose activities are aimed to the care of the demands of those who are socially excluded and/or victimized, in this case, disabled people.

As we emphasized, in the Eliasian perspective, in game, the individuals (partners or adversaries) become increasingly interdependent, performing reciprocal functions. In this sense, we understand that, differently of what we could assume, the public funding of philanthropic institutions and/or the third sector evidences several aspects of functional interdependence between the public and private10, in a game where the charity and solidarity bias, associated with the perspectives of the medical-clinical model, constitutes a justifier of the pertinence of the work of the special needs education institutions in our recent societies, a fact that distances us radically from the recognition of disabled people as subjects of right.

However, the data also allow us to reiterate that the expansion of the chains of interdependences, associated with the increasing resignification of social knowledge relative to the educability of disabled people, has been producing other referents of power in the social figurations, making it possible to some and others to question situations acknowledged as excluding and to build mechanisms to overcome these situations. Thus, we believe that, in the game marked by ambivalences and by an unstable balance of power, whose rules and structure signal to the achievement of social rights in the field of disabled people schooling in regular schools, the resignification of aspects of the social knowledge can lead to the emergence of specific tensions in the interdependences established between parents, professionals, public managers and special needs education institutions in the context of the clashes and debates recently undertaken. These tensions can reconfigure the relative force of these institutions if, in an associated way with the movement of resignification of the social knowledge relative to the educability of disabled person, those accountable for the public administration, besides announcing rights, invest more significantly in the addressing of the demands of these disabled young, adults or elderly people, acknowledging the inequality of access to the goods and services to which they are submitted.

Translated from Portuguese by Ananyr Porto Fajardo


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6It is a reference-document of the Brazilian educational policy for all the government levels. It presents principles, guidelines, priorities, goals and strategies of action to challenge educational problems of the country (Brasil, 2010).

7We registered in italics the Eliasian notions that form the goal of this text. It is worth highlighting that, for Elias, in the use of the game model, the concept of power relation can be replaced by relative force of the players. It is an expression that allows to evidence, immediately, that “[…] the ‘force’ of the game of a player varies relatively to her/his adversary […]” (Elias, 2005, p. 81).

8Elias (2005) considers that the expression homo clausus, aligned with the scope of contractualism and rationalism, supports the arguments of those who study the society understanding it as a gathering of individuals. In this meaning, individual and society are studied as separate beings and in dichotomy. In his sociological approach, Elias indicates the need to surpass this idea of solitary individual, enclosed in himself and separate from the inter-relations (homo clausus) individual, proposing, in turn, the use of the notion of homines aperti, supporting the understanding that “[…] the concept of individual refers to interdependent people, and the concept of society to interdependent people in plural […]” (Elias, 2005, p. 136). In this sense, individual and society do not dichotomize themselves, but constitute different sides of one same process.

9In the state of Espírito Santo, the State Department of Education (SEDU) organizes the municipalities in eleven administrative regions, under the jurisdiction of a Regional Superintendence of Education (SRE).

10To this respect, Saviani (2010, p. 1-2) highlights that “[…] public and private categories that originate from and are specific to the modern time […]” and, in this sense, “[…] the complicity between the public and the private is proper of the capitalist society in which the public tends to be at the service of private interests […]” (Saviani, 2010, p. 16). It is a point that we intend to deepen in our following works.

Received: April 25, 2016; Accepted: May 08, 2017

Reginaldo Célio Sobrinho holds a PhD in Education. Adjunct Professor at the Department of Education, Politics and Society and the Post-Graduation Program in Education, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo. E-mail:

Maria das Graças Silva Carvalho de Sá holds a PhD in Education. Professor at the Department of Gymnastics, Center for Physical Education and Sports, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo. E-mail:

Edson Pantaleão holds a PhD in Education. Adjunct Professor at the Department of Education, Politics and Society and the Post-Graduation Program in Education, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo. E-mail:

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