chapter  2
A Sociology of Special Education
Pages 17

This chapter attempts to bring sociological perspectives to bear upon those social processes, policies and practices which comprise special education. The processes of special education are very complex, as are most social processes. Theory and practice in special education are informed by a variety of disciplines and approaches, but, by and large, sociology is not one of them. Medical, psychological, educational, administrative and technical approaches all influence and inform special education, but the sociological input is currently very limited. Sociological perspectives should be able to help all those concerned with special education by making clearer what is happening and why it is happening, particularly the way in which people or groups exercise power and influence, and can shape and change special education. Until the 1950s, sociology was closely associated with the London School of Economics, where understanding social life through surveys and statistics and a Fabian-influenced concern with social problems and social reform were dominant.