Disability categories in education were redefined to exclude minorities, study shows

phys.org | 8/12/2019 | Staff
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Organizations inescapably categorize people, and those in the most desirable categories may do whatever it takes to stay there and to exclude others until a more desirable category emerges. However, dominant groups also can rerank existing favorable and unfavorable categories when weaker groups gain greater access to the traditionally favorable categories. Two University of Kansas professors have published a study of this reranking process in education, which they refer to as categorical manipulation.

The paper outlines a theory of the reranking process against the backdrop of research on status competition and organizational stratification. It then tests the theory by drawing on data from a large urban school district, where categorical manipulation occurred to keep racial minorities out of the most desirable mild disability categories.

Article - Co-authors - Argun - Saatcioglu - Associate

The article's co-authors are Argun Saatcioglu, associate professor of educational leadership & policy studies and by courtesy sociology, and Thomas Skrtic, Williamson Family Distinguished Professor of Special Education. The study appears in the American Journal of Sociology.

When groups who have enjoyed status and prestige for a long time are forced to accept outsiders into their customary categories, they can move down to what formerly was a less prime slot and use their influence to redefine the terms of categorization. The practice has happened in business, employment and popular culture. For the article, the KU authors document how one city school district moved upper-class white students from the least stigmatizing and well-resourced disability categories into what, at the time, was the least desirable category when a court order forced desegregation in the 1970s and minority students started joining the top categories.

Idea - Categories - Ladder - Women - Minorities

"The idea is that the categories are arranged like a ladder. The most desirable are at the top, and women and minorities only move up a rung if men and whites move up first," Skrtic said. "This also happens...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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