University of Sussex
McCreadie, Elizabeth Ann.pdf (9.36 MB)

Doxa disability and discrimination

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posted on 2023-06-09, 05:17 authored by Elizabeth Ann McCreadie
This research considers the hypothesis that eugenic ideology still influences social work practice in contemporary Britain. Exploring the issues through a feminist perspective by utilizing a narrative approach with individuals with learning disabilities. For many people with learning disabilities access to 'Human Rights' is rather elusive and this work seeks to examine this through the lens of eugenic ideology and a Bourdieusian approach to social work. The purpose being to ascertain if eugenic ideology is still present, if only through the Bourdieusian concept of "doxe ", if so how does this affect the life choices and human rights of the people in the research. Based on the 'lived experiences' of a number of individuals with learning disabilities, all of whom were members of a self-advocacy group in England. All participants had previously been involved as service users in the selection of Social Work students for a London university and were contributors to the programme in this capacity over a period of several years. Involvement of participants in the research with the self -advocacy group was by open invitation to the group members, and individual 'life stories ' were documented through recorded interviews by the researcher over a period of several months. Utilizing a narrative approach to the life stories from a feminist perspective the experiences were examined against the historical backdrop of eugenics, articles of the Human Rights Act and Bourdieu's theory of practice. The findings show oppression, inequality and a lack of 'Human Rights' experienced by the participants, this against a policy background of 'Valuing People' and 'Personalisation' which both set out to promote strategies of social inclusion and real opportunities for people with learning disabilities. The 'caring ' professions including social work are implicated in the continuing and ongoing oppression and symbolic violence of people with learning disabilities. Whilst the terminology of 'eugenics' is no longer an acceptable topic of conversation, the impact of the ideology continues to permeate the ‘collective unconsciousness' (doxa) of many including those who are involved in the decision making processes of individuals identified as learning disabled. The implications for practice is that awareness of the pernicious effects of the eugenic movement need to be taught as part of the history of social work and included in the curriculum, if we are to avoid repeating the horrors of the history of the eugenic movement. By utilizing Bourdieu's concepts of habitus, capital and field, together with doxa and hysteresis it is possible to arrive at a new model of Social Work practice to address discrimination and to promote anti oppressive practice. The "Hysteresis Wheel', is a model developed as a result of this research.


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University of Sussex

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