Producing ADHD: an ethnographic study of behavioural discourses of early childhood
Bailey, Simon (2009) Producing ADHD: an ethnographic study of behavioural discourses of early childhood. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder of childhood. Most of the deficits it describes are situated examples of classroom misdemeanour, and yet the school’s complicity in rising diagnostic trends has not been extensively questioned. This study aims to provide this through an ethnographic account of ADHD in the infant classroom. Underscored by Foucault’s analysis of power and discourse, this study aims to describe some of the conditions of school and home which make the application of a diagnosis possible. The project firstly presents textual critique of the dichotomous and categorical channels through which ADHD is currently known. Following this the ethnographic account is presented, the data for which derives mainly from observational work in two schools and interviews with two families. The data explores four problematics in early education and social care; routinisation, gendering, responsibilisation and emotional governance. Together these relations produce binds in the conceptualisation of childhood, schooling and family, through which therapeutic discourse is able to form objects, producing the classroom subject ‘ADHD’. Through this argument I offer the means to re-insert the social and cultural into naturalised and individualised therapeutic narratives. In conclusion I argue for a re-imagination of the manner in which we interrogate choice, and state the case for a more reflexive pedagogical encounter with the construction of others.
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