Series Title: Rethinking Research and Professional Practices in Terms of Relationality, Subjectivity and Power

Poststructuralism at Work with Marginalised Children

Volume 3

eBook: US $21 Special Offer (PDF + Printed Copy): US $79
Printed Copy: US $69
Library License: US $84
ISSN: 2210-2833 (Print)
ISBN: 978-1-60805-707-8 (Print)
ISBN: 978-1-60805-278-3 (Online)
Year of Publication: 2011
DOI: 10.2174/97816080527831110101


This book aims at developing the capacity to apply poststructuralism in a setting where other discourses are dominant. It focuses on working both with students categorized as 'emotionally/behaviourally disordered' and their teachers in the context of a special education school. This unique work comes to understandings, using poststructuralist theory, about what it means to be positioned in the world as emotionally/behaviourally disordered.

Using these understandings it then looks at developing strategies for working with students and staff to enable them to become people who can begin to understand the multiple and contradictory discourses shaping them and shaping the social world they inhabit, such that they begin to develop strategies to undo their marginal positioning.

Indexed in: Scopus, EBSCO., Ulrich's Periodicals Directory.


I find this work very moving. It is a critique of the present approach to special education informed by a poststructuralist framework, utilising extracts from the diary of the principal of a special school. Cath Laws reflects not only on existing discourses in relation to positions of 'bad, mad, and sad' within special education but also, critically, on her own practice, and therefore makes an important intervention into the practices of special education.

This work does not use Foucault in the traditional way, but more as a point of departure toward understanding the positioning of the subjects within the special school. It is this different approach which makes the work so moving and provides insights about subjectivity quite different from those in standard Foucauldian work.

The quality of this work lies in its thoughtful engagement with the discourses and practices of special education, and its use of a narrative approach, which in itself challenges the 'education as truth' doctrine found in the fields Laws critiques. It is a highly significant presentation of crucial issues for practice, set out in a clear, accessible way, and beautifully written. This work forms a much-needed critique of present practices of subjectification within special education. For that reason alone, it deserves to be taken very seriously indeed.

Valerie Walkerdine
Cardiff University