Policy, Provision and the Historical Context

  • Sarah Richards


Social policy is highly relevant to the academic study of disabilities. As an academic discipline it explores the ways in which welfare provision is conceived, organised and distributed (Richards 2013). It critically explores value laden concepts such as ‘welfare’, ‘need’ and ‘entitlement’ and interrogates the ideologies which shape how welfare is produced and to whom it is given. Such domains are contested and often controversial, but the study of social policy provides insight into changing ideas about particular groups held by society at a given social and political point in history. In social policy there are few, if any clearly defined or discrete boundaries through which to explore a single theme. If one begins with a topic such as special educational needs, the development of special schools is important to include, this ensures the rise and dominance of institutions is relevant to note which then necessitates acknowledgement of the marginalisation and stigma associated with these former places of care. Their demise with the re-emergence of the family and community as locations of care is inextricable from policy debates about where and by whom children should be educated. This brings us back to the organisation of provision towards special educational needs.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Richards
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SuffolkIpswichUK

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