Theorizing the Position of People With Learning Difficulties Within Disability Studies

Progress and Pitfalls

Authored by: Kirsten Stalker

Routledge Handbook of Disability Studies

Print publication date:  February  2012
Online publication date:  March  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415574006
eBook ISBN: 9780203144114
Adobe ISBN: 9781136502170


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From the 1960s through to at least the 1990s, the dominant theoretical framework within the academic study of learning difficulties, and within policy-making and service delivery for people with learning difficulties, was normalization: arguably this is still the case (Yates et al. 2008; Walmsley 2010). Normalization has been roundly critiqued by writers within and outside disability studies (DS), for example because it fails to explain the oppression of people with learning difficulties or to offer a means of liberation (Oliver 2009). On the other hand, Race et al. (2005) suggest that academic differences between DS and normalization are ideological rather than substantive, pointing to similarities between their respective analyses of devaluation that would repay closer examination.

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