This is a decisive new approach to our understanding of 'intellectual disability' as a social and linguistic category. This book breaks both with essentialist approaches, which ground the understanding of intellectual disability in the putative physical and intellectual materiality of individuals, and with social constructionist approaches, which are caught in an inescapable paradox of being unable to grasp their nebulous target. By conducting an 'archaeological' discourse analysis this study demonstrates how intellectual disability is produced, not as a conceptual entity, but as a discursive field. Tracing its four principal conceptual parameters - functioning, organic pathology, intelligence and development - the book outlines the economy of relations between the diverse objects, concepts and practices that constitute intellectual disability today. In addition, the work demonstrates that the current discourse on intellectual disability emerged from a decisive conceptual rupture at the beginning of the nineteenth-century.
Eschewing claims of a long-established 'understanding' of the essential nature and basic elements of idiocy, Modernity and the Appearance of idiocy shows that prior to the early 1900s there was a variety of conceptual formations, and none which closely matched a truly developmental understanding of idiocy.
Dr. Murray K. Simpson is a Reader in the School of Education, Social Work, and Community Education at the University of Dundee. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Dundee.
Foreword - Professor Chris Philo; Acknowledgements/Introduction; Archaeology of intellectual disability; Intellectual disability and social constructionism; Chapter One-Education and civility; The Legacy of Emile; Itard; Poole; Conclusion; Chapter Two-The physiological concept of idiocy; Physiological education; Conclusion; Chapter Three - The return of the body; Ireland's pathological classification; Conclusion; Chapter Four - Intelligence and the psychological gaze; The concept of intelligence; The method; Mental deficiency and education; The politics of intelligence testing; And More.