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Practicing Disability Studies in Education

Acting Toward Social Change


Edited By David J. Connor, Jan W. Valle and Chris Hale

Practicing Disability Studies in Education: Acting Toward Social Change celebrates the diversity of contemporary work being developed by a range of scholars working within the field of Disability Studies in Education (DSE). The central idea of this volume is to share ways in which educators practice DSE in creative and eclectic ways in order to rethink, reframe, and reshape the current educational response to disability. Largely confined to the limitations of traditional educational discourse, this collective (and growing) group continues to push limits, break molds, assert the need for plurality, explore possibilities, move into the unknown, take chances, strategize to destabilize, and co-create new visions for what can be, instead of settling for what is. Much like jazz musicians who rely upon one another on stage to create music collectively, these featured scholars have been – and continue to – riff with one another in creating the growing body of DSE literature. In sum, this volume is DSE «at work.»
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10. Critiquing Policy: Limitations and Possibilities



“There are times in life when the question of knowing if one can think differently than one thinks, and perceive differently than one sees, is absolutely necessary if one is to go on looking and reflecting at all.”

—Foucault, (1985, p. 8)


Bruno Latour (2004) suggests that our critical spirit has “run out of steam” (p. 225), and we have become like mechanical toys, endlessly repeating the same gesture, trying to conquer territories that no longer exist whilst being unprepared for the “new threats, new dangers, new tasks, new targets” (ibid.) that we face. This chapter will examine the limited success of critique of educational policy and will consider the specific contexts of Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States, each with different educational traditions and trajectories but with some convergences in patterns of critique. Latour calls urgently for progress towards “a fair position” and for the development of “new critical tools” to work positively and constructively towards social change. The potential of analytical resources, derived from within disability studies in education and through its orientation to the humanities, to deliver acceptable and appropriate critique and to mobilise political action will be explored.

Critical Limitations

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