‘It’s got so politically correct now’: parents’ talk about empowering individuals with learning disabilities

Treena Jingree, W. Finlay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over the last decade the UK Government has made proposals to empower individuals with learning disabilities. Strategies have been implemented to reduce institutionalisation and social segregation. Consequently, some learning disability services are being phased out and the focus of care has moved away from institutions and into the community and family domain. Focusing on discourse as a site for social action and identity construction, we used critical discursive psychology to examine focus group discussions between family carers about facilitating the independence of adult family members with learning disabilities. Unlike official UK Government and learning disability services’ constructions of empowerment policy, we found that parents invoked empowerment talk: (1) as a resource to construct the facilitation of independence as an abstract, irresponsible, politically correct professional trend; (2) dilemmatically with meritocratic or practical arguments to undermine notions of facilitating choices; and (3) as a resource to construct new service developments as contrary to the preferences of people with learning disabilities. Parents also described individuals with learning disabilities as unable to cope, and drew stark contrasts between their practice and those of service-professionals when expressing concerns about empowerment. We discuss possible implications of such discourses and contrasts on opportunities for empowering individuals with learning disabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-428
JournalSociology of Health & Illness
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


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