chapter  5
Perceptions of self and of labels
Pages 22

This chapter focuses on the relationship between self-perceptions and stigma. It examines the tensions associated with 'difference dilemmas' in relation to self-perceptions. The chapter explores whether pupils with moderate learning difficulties (MLD) experience a contrary sense of self and how pupils with MLD respond to various labels and how they evaluate them. Positive self-perceptions predominated over negative ones. In this and the K. Jahoda study the findings were inconsistent with the reflected appraisal theory, a social constructionist perspective. Self perceptions across a range of areas were assessed for pupils with 'mental retardation' and 'conduct difficulties' and compared to groups with and without difficulties in a mainstream school setting. The higher self perceptions in special settings were seen as an over-estimation, which was defensive and reflected the protective environment and educational methods used in these settings. Overall 65 per cent of the sample expressed feelings about their educational abilities, with more from mainstream than special schools doing so.