What does learning disability mean in the 'real world'?: re-evaluating conceptions and definitions of learning disability

Cluley, Victoria (2016) What does learning disability mean in the 'real world'?: re-evaluating conceptions and definitions of learning disability. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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What does learning disability mean in the ‘real world’? is a qualitative sociological thesis that explores the discursive resources used by different groups of people in relation to the term learning disability. Learning disability is a term that can mean different things to different people. It is also a term that can be seen from a variety of theoretical standpoints. Indeed, the term learning disability exists within a semantic tangle of definitions, concepts, colloquialisms, politics and attitudes that is fraught with historical, social and political tensions. While this is a feature of many terms, how learning disability is understood is of direct consequence to people with learning disabilities and the lives they live. This thesis aims to address this confusion and to work towards a re-evaluation of concepts and definitions of learning disability.

The empirical work undertaken for this thesis is based on two philosophical positioning statements that emanated from the literature review: that learning disability is both an embodied reality and a social construct; and that people’s views, perceptions, and understandings are meaningful reflections of social reality. In order to obtain the perceptions of people experiencing the ‘real world’ of learning disability, a combination of focus groups with people without learning disabilities and photovoice sessions with people with learning disabilities were used. The resultant findings have been analysed using a combination of discourse analysis and interpretive engagement. From this data, it is concluded that dominant models of disability, found in current learning disability policy and research as well as in the research participants’ talk, result in the (mis)representation of learning disability. In order to redress this issue, it is argued that the body, including the brain as a bodily organ, must be reoriented to a position of influence within understandings of learning disability.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Pilnick, Alison
Fyson, Rachel
Keywords: Learning Disability, Disability Studies
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Sociology and Social Policy
Item ID: 34078
Depositing User: Cluley, Victoria
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2016 09:30
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2017 10:59
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/34078

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