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Browsing by Author "Väänänen, Elina"

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  • Väänänen, Elina (2023)
    In my research, I examine special education as a discursive practice in the Foucauldian sense, in which ideas about disturbance are almost exclusively produced as individual characteristics. The discursive perspective also challenges the position of scientific knowledge and concretizes the power and control contained within it. My study is situated in special education context where the education system has assumed a significant role in constructing the normal individual. Therefore, the examination of disturbance is closely related to questions of exceptionalism. In my research, I investigate how disturbance is conceptualized in Helsinki university course materials. Additionally, I reflect on the positioning that materials offer to individuals, mainly in expert positions, who consume them. My data consists of two course books used in special education training, which I approach and deconstruct discursively. In my research, discourses appear as information systems that, instead of merely describing, act as significant building blocks in our thinking and actions. Thus, course materials are kind of a window into the ways in which disturbance and specialness are structured within the education system and more broadly in society. The results of my research show that disturbance is primarily presented as individual deficiencies, which reinforces my preconception that disturbances are personal faults or defect. Consequently, various skills and self-management strategies are offered as solutions to disturbance, which enable one to overcome it. The results also challenged individualistic views. The disorder was presented as a product of Western culture, where certain behavioral patterns are intentionally excluded from appropriate and correct behavior. The course material also placed the adult i.e. the teacher, in a position where they are seen as an actor outside the disorder, who is able to know and report how, when, and why the disorder develops.