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RHETORICS AND REALITIES OF THE EMPLOYMENT OF LEARNING DISABLED ADULTS: A CRITICAL ETHNOGRAPHIC ENGAGEMENT

Torrance, F (2020) RHETORICS AND REALITIES OF THE EMPLOYMENT OF LEARNING DISABLED ADULTS: A CRITICAL ETHNOGRAPHIC ENGAGEMENT. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Abstract

ABSTRACT This study contrasts the experiences of learning disabled (LD) adults in employment with the socio-political rhetoric about their employment used by support organisations, statutory bodies and the UK Government. Using ethnographic methods such as participant observation, video diary interviews, and focus groups developed in partnership with learning disabled adults in funded projects, the rhetoric masking the lived experience of a group of LD adults in employment is described and elucidated. This insider look provides an opportunity to evaluate the influences underlying business provisions in relation to the notion that disability support businesses are positioned for promoting the interests of this marginalised group, as a moral or common good. Although perceptions and support of this group has improved since the 19th Century, the thesis illustrates how the economic positioning of LD adults in the current socio-political system can be corrupting. This corruption is due in part to the introduction of a market economy in this field and this is examined along with the effects this has on individuals. In this way, the research sets out to critically question the power businesses have in shaping how learning disabled people’s choices and human needs are met through the Government and other funded services. Other issues that emerged through ethnographic engagement include issues around the development of LD adults and the distribution of knowledge and resources to this group, including the effects of ‘evidencing’ contractual outcomes and funding objectives in a competitive environment. I also question the government’s role in defining future protection models within the UK where there are continuing claims to value equal opportunity, diversity and democracy. The study presented is framed within wider disability studies and academic, health and political debate. A Critical Ethnography of this kind has not as yet been produced in the UK, potentially because of the controversial and complex nature of reporting on such a study, gatekeeper protectionism, and the vulnerability of the participants who are safeguarded. These issues are also considered and interrogated in this thesis. The work is original in its academic contribution to the field of disability studies and debate about socio-political welfare policy, and to developing, and reflecting on, a critical ethnographic methodology for working with learning disabled people.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Learning Disability; Critical Ethnography; Ethnography; Disability; Employment; Recruitment; Funded Projects; Case Study; Multidisciplinary
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV697 Protection, assistance and relief > HV1551 People with disabilities
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV697 Protection, assistance and relief
Divisions: Education
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2021 08:29
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 23:17
DOI or Identification number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00015157
Supervisors: Frankham, J
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15157

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