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From ‘Disordered’ To ‘Diverse’: Defining Six Sociological Frameworks Employed in the Study of Dyslexia in the UK

Macdonald, Stephen J (2019) From ‘Disordered’ To ‘Diverse’: Defining Six Sociological Frameworks Employed in the Study of Dyslexia in the UK. Insights on Learning Disabilities, 16 (1). pp. 1-22. ISSN 1949-1212

Item Type: Article


This article discusses six theoretical frameworks of disability which dominate studies of dyslexia: (1) the biomedical, (2) the biopsychosocial, (3) the social model, (4) the critical realist, (5) the post-structuralistic, and (6) the neurodivergent approach. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate how models of disability alter our understandings of dyslexia within research and practice. This paper suggests that the biomedical model has traditionally dominated debates regarding this condition. Yet there has been a recent shift to expand/reject this pathological approach, and to incorporate the social and psychological aspects of dyslexia. The author identifies two distinct ideological frameworks, referred to as the psycho-medical and socio-cultural perspectives, which dominate debates in the field. From a psycho-medical perspective, the biomedical and biopsychosocial models are defined and applied to dyslexia. These will be compared with a socio-cultural perspective by outlining: the social model; the social relational model; and the affirmation model. The article will conclude by referring to the recent theoretical occurrence of neuro-diversity. From this standpoint, the previous five models of disability are rejected due to their association with the concept of ‘disability’, which, from a neurodiversity perspective, constructs dyslexia from a ‘deficit’ approach. The author aims to clearly define the parameters of these theoretical frameworks to reveal the ideological assumptions that conceptualize dyslexia as a biological, psychological and social phenomenon.

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Additional Information: Unable to confirm DOI
Depositing User: Stephen Macdonald


Item ID: 10817
ISSN: 1949-1212
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ORCID for Stephen J Macdonald: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 29 May 2019 09:37
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2021 12:13


Author: Stephen J Macdonald ORCID iD

University Divisions

Faculty of Education and Society
Faculty of Education and Society > School of Social Sciences


Social Sciences > Criminology
Social Sciences > Sociology

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