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Power, competence and constructing disabling barriers: A discursive analysis of communications between professionals and a person with impairment

Threlfall, Lindsey (2014) Power, competence and constructing disabling barriers: A discursive analysis of communications between professionals and a person with impairment. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Previous research pertaining to impairment and disability has principally targeted the construction of disabling barriers through a multitude of means. However, unapparent and more ambiguous constructs have received insufficient recognition. This research aspires to contribute to such literature regarding the construction of disabling barriers and specifically provide insights into the discursive aspects of those constructions. Fairclough’s approach to critical discourse analysis (CDA) was adapted to identify specific discourses leading to the construction of disabling barriers, including power and competence. Three concepts characteristic of critical discursive psychology, and outlined by Reynolds and Wetherell, were utilised for the analysis of eight professional documents. The concepts included interpretative repertoires, ideological dilemmas and subject positions, and were used in line with the analysis of discursive constructions. Particular attention was paid to the relationship between the researcher and person with impairment, whereby subjectivity was believed to enhance analysis. A variety of discourses were interpreted from the data, underpinning the implications of power, competence and accessibility in relation to disabling barriers.

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