The Sociology of Disability and Inclusive Education: A Tribute to Len Barton

The Sociology of Disability and Inclusive Education: A Tribute to Len Barton

The Sociology of Disability and Inclusive Education: A Tribute to Len Barton

The Sociology of Disability and Inclusive Education: A Tribute to Len Barton


Len Barton's intellectual and practical contribution to the sociology of disability and education is highly significant and widely known. The leading scholars in this collection, including his long term collaborators, offer both a celebration and a reassessment of this contribution, addressing the challenge that the social model of disability has presented to dominant medicalised concepts, categories and practices, and their power to define the identity and the lives of others. At the same time the authors build upon some of the key themes that are woven through Len Barton's work, such as his call for a 'politics of hope'.

This collection explores a wide range of topics, including:

  • difference as a field of political struggle
  • the relationship of disability studies, disabled people and their struggle for inclusion
  • radical activism: organic intellectuals and the disability movement
  • discrimination, exclusion and effective change
  • inclusive education
  • the 'politics of hope', resilience and transformative actions
  • universal pedagogy, human rights and citizenship debates.

The Sociology of Disability and Inclusive Educationhighlights Len Barton's humane vision of academic work, of the nature of an inclusive and non-discriminatory society, of the role of an education system which addresses the rights, and potential of all participants. It indicates how such a society could be achieved through the principles of social inclusion, human rights, equity and social justice.

This book was originally published as a special issue of the British Journal of Sociology of Education.


In September 2009, Len Barton retired as Chair of the Executive Editorial Board of the British Journal of Sociology of Education (BJSE). Past and present members of the Executive and Editorial Boards and the international consultants owe a great debt of gratitude to Len. He was not only the founding editor and first Chair but also a superb friend and colleague who has closely worked with us over the past 30 years. There is hardly a sociologist of education internationally and in the United Kingdom who has not come across Len Barton and his extraordinary pivotal role in the discipline. in tribute to him, the Executive Editorial Board ran a major celebratory event to thank Len for the part that he has played in promoting critical, analytic and informed sociological studies of education, and his unique contribution in establishing and running bjse and consolidating its world-class status as the sociology of education journal. the Board also decided to publish a special issue of the journal on The Sociology of Disability and Education as a tribute to Len’s lifelong commitment to the development of this field of study and in recognition of the exceptional leadership and scholarship he has offered to sociological studies of disability and inclusive education.

In 1978, whilst many of us were happily dancing to ‘The YMCA’ at the legendary Annual Sociology of Education Conference, which started at Westhill College, Birmingham and continued at different locations for over two decades, Len was busy talking to a wide group of people about the idea of a journal in the sociology of education. the first Executive Board was set up with seven members – Len, Olive Banks, Roger Dale, David Hargreaves, Roland Meighan, Ivan Reid and Graham Vulliamy, along with Roger Osborn King from Carfax Publishing. They began to establish the policy and direction of the journal and helped identify and confirm the members of the first editorial board – some of whom are still on board today. Little did we know that we would still be working on the journal 30 years later! One of the great tributes to Len’s editorial leadership of the bjse is the extraordinary continuity of editors who have remained working on this journal and the fact that some 88 sociologists of education, now leading figures in the social analysis of education and education policy globally, have been associated with the journal as editors. As Chair of the Executive Board, Len created a culture that held sacrosanct the concept of sociology as a critical discipline that could delve behind taken for granted assumptions about social reality and mythological policy discourses, revealing the social and political nature of education. the contribution of the journal would be to stand outside mainstream educational thinking and offer critical but also constructive and innovative insights into the shaping by social structures of the processes of teaching, learning, educational choices and achievements At the core of Len’s sociological project, as so many contributors to . . .

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