chapter  2
30 Pages

Comparative Special Education: Ideology, Differentiation and Allocation in England and the United States

In this chapter I want to address the place of special education - the provision of special curricula or pedagogies for children judged relatively unable to benefit from mainstream education — in education and society in England and Wales, and in the United States. While sociological studies of special education are beginning to appear in both countries (e.g. Carrier, 1983b and Milofsky, 1976, for the United States; and Barton and tomlinson, 1981; Ford, Mongon and Whelan, 1982; and Tomlinson, 1981,1982, for England), generally sociologists of education neglect special education, limiting themselves at most to discussions of intelligence and its social bases (e.g. Bowles and Gintis, 1976; Dale, Esland, Fergusson and MacDonald, eds., 1981; Dale, Esland and MacDonald, eds., 1976; Karabel andHalsey, eds., 1977). In part, this general sociological neglect may be the result of the absence, until quite recently, of any substantial effort to show how the study of special education can bear on important social, and hence sociological, concerns. While sociological studies of special education are rare, comparative and historical sociological studies are even rarer. This is unfortunate, because the analysis of similarities and differences between countries and across time can help to raise important sociological points which may not occur to those whose attention is focused on contemporary practice in a single country.