We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

The social construction of dyslexia in the UK media: school as a site of failure

SIMBLETT, CAROLINE,ELIZABETH (2021) The social construction of dyslexia in the UK media: school as a site of failure. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF - Accepted Version


Despite the capacious amount of research into dyslexia, there has been very little research carried out which investigates how the media construct dyslexia. Print media are in a powerful position in society to construct a concept like dyslexia, they are an example of what Foucault (1977b) termed a ‘technology of power’. They have the power to create their own knowledge and truth about a topic. This thesis is concerned with exploring how the media in the UK (both mainstream and specialist media targeted at educational professionals) construct dyslexia as a topic as well as how they construct the dyslexic subject particularly within schools and the UK education system.

This study used a mixed methods approach combining corpus linguistics with a Foucauldian Discourse Analysis. The data collected for this research was compiled into two corpora, which have been designed and built especially for this study. The corpora contain a total of 8283 news items across 43 years.

Discourse in media portray school and the education system as sites of failure for children with dyslexia. Continuous reports of schools being sued, children leaving school without qualifications and reports of the failure of teachers to identify dyslexia at a young age creates a discursive formation of failure. State schools were framed as not doing enough to help children with dyslexia whereas private schools were framed as saviours.

The research also revealed that the continued use of positive discourse in mainstream media meant that dyslexia was constructed as gift and associated with creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Constant reference to gifted celebrities was used to promote this view. Although discourse was investigated over time, it was found that no real change was identified in the ways in which dyslexia and the dyslexic subject were constructed across the corpora.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Education
Keywords:Dyslexia media Foucault social construction
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:15 Nov 2021 15:38

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter