Labels of Convenience / Labels of Opportunity

Rix, Jonathan (2023). Labels of Convenience / Labels of Opportunity. In: Done, Elizabeth J. and Knowler, Helen eds. International Perspectives on Exclusionary Pressures in Education: How Inclusion becomes Exclusion. Springer, pp. 125–142.



All labels are a social construct. Researchers and funders choose which aspects of humanity to focus upon and investigate, dependent upon a wide variety of socio-cultural and economic factors. Based on this focus, any number of labels can be created. This chapter explores the consequences of this process as it applies to what is referred to as special educational needs, additional support needs, exceptionalities, special needs, learning difficulties and so forth. It considers the diverse international use of categories, their deceptive sense of commonality and the contradictions behind their emergence and use. It highlights the problems that can arise, with particular reference to a label recently developed in England—SEND, and related exclusionary pressures.

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