Conceptions Of Deprivation: An Empirical Study

Clark, Philip (1984). Conceptions Of Deprivation: An Empirical Study. MPhil thesis The Open University.



This is a study of the concept of 'deprivation'. It is aimed to discover what the concept means to teachers and others responsible for the education and welfare of children living in a housing estate which is officially recognised as 'deprived'. A social construction approach is used as the idea is examined at what is in essence 'folk' 'level' as far as the contributing professionals are concerned. The recorded impressions held by these professional people provide the data for the investigation and eight teachers working at the local primary school serve as key witnesses.

Before examining the largely tape-recorded evidence collected in the field-work phase of the project attention is given to the way in which the word 'deprivation' is used and an attempt is made to identify underlying ideas held by users of the concept: it is suspected that the label 'deprived child' may be a factor when underachievement occurs in schools serving neighbourhoods of the kind here considered.

The difficulty of usefully surveying the wide literature on deprivation is discussed and attention is drawn to the sterility of studies in this field which attempt to negate the influence of ideology: it is postulated that a full understanding of the concept of deprivation is unlikely to be gained solely from measurement of the generally-used criteria. Nevertheless, indices of deprivation as revealed, for example, in the Census are noticed and comparisons are made between the research area and the country as s whole. Even so, as it is the subjective reality of witnesses that is being sought this research project is in the tradition of sociological phenomenology.

Five groups of hypotheses have been set up against which to measure possible ways in which children corns to be categorised as 'deprived' and in a further group of hypotheses an attempt is made to measure the implications of such categorization before formulating operational advice of particular significance to teachers serving in neighbourhoods seen as deprived.

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