Shaw, Susan Angela (2007) An analysis of the discourses and discursive devices used to represent learning disability in the stories told in the classroom to students by learning disability nurse teachers. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This study explores the complexities of the social construction of learning disability.
The focus is upon the ways in which learning disability nurse teachers represent their
experiences of learning disability nurse practice in stories. The stories focussed upon
in this study were identified in a series of 20 audio taped teaching sessions with
student learning disability nurses. The research investigations centred upon the
learning disability constructions in some 30 stories and were also supported by 5
subsequent interviews with the teachers and observations of 7 teaching sessions. The
findings highlight some interesting ideas about the social construction of learning
disability by nurse educators and also the personal tensions expressed by learning
disability nurses trained in the past but faced with the dominant discourses of today.
As a qualitative study, this research drew upon the ideas of social construction and
competing discourses most commonly associated with Michael Foucault in his works
Discipline and Punish and Madness and Civilisation. In particular the stories were
investigated for the influences of medicalising and professionalising discourses which
construct people with learning disability as powerless and the learning disability nurse
with the power to control. The investigations began with a form of Foucauldian
discourse analysis which was used to examine the transcribed storied material,
interviews and observations. Following initial engagement the investigations also
developed with the aid of discourse analysis more heavily influenced by the
discursive psychology of Potter and Wetherell (2004). Both forms of discourse
analysis assisted the investigation of the many ways or modes in which learning
disability was constructed by nurse teachers.


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