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Critical Dyslexia: the discursive construction of dyslexia in higher education

Cameron, Harriet (2015) Critical Dyslexia: the discursive construction of dyslexia in higher education. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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The disparate ways in which dyslexia can be constructed in discourse in the higher education context have implications for the students who have been given the dyslexia label and for those in the wider learning community. The current study is an in-depth, two-level discourse analysis of two focus group conversations between university students with an identification of dyslexia. The study aimed to identify the discourses of dyslexia constructed during the focus groups; to explore the related subject positions students took up, offered or resisted (after Davies & Harre, 2001) and to consider some of the implications of such positionings; and finally to identify the wider discourses and ideologies reproduced in the texts (Willig, 2008; Gee, 2005). The researcher identified (co-constructed) the following key discourses of dyslexia in the texts: dyslexia as desirable, as innate deficit, as an excuse for stupidity or laziness, as difference, as disability, as social construction, and as identity. The researcher identified the following key subject positions taken up, offered or resisted in the texts: being intelligent/ able, being a survivor, being ‘just who I am’, being a hard-worker, being worthy/ deserving, being disabled, being a fraud, and being deficient. The researcher named four ideological threads active within the conversations: education and literacy; neoliberalism, meritocracy and the individual; health, morality and medicine; and positivism, cognitivism and biological determinism. The analysis suggested that particular subject positions encouraged or denied participants certain ways-of-being as learners. Analysis also suggested that these subject positions were tied to particular discourses of dyslexia, and to particular ideological positions. This thesis considers the implications of the identified discourses and ideologies in full and suggests how this knowledge can be used within higher education and within critical psychology to raise awareness of how and why talk which constructs psycho-educational types of learner matters.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Education (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.634354
Depositing User: Dr Harriet Cameron
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2015 12:17
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2018 09:21
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7804

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