Identity development of people with learning difficulties through the recognition of work
This thesis examines the development of identity of people with learning difficulties. It concentrates on an aspect which has hitherto not received significant attention, that is the importance of recognition of work in the developmental process. In order to do this the thesis defines work in a particular way, based on the work of E Jaques. It defines work in terms of the decision making process which leads to an external transformation of the world. It is the recognition of this transformation by another person which affirms the actor and enhances a sense of self. For this recognition to be effective, i.e. help in the development of identity, the thesis argues that it is critical to understand the way in which a person constructs their world and links intention with action. A general model is offered to describe this process whereby the person moves from a subjective construction of the world (a world of subjective discontinuity) to one which can be understood by others (interactive discontinuity). Although the model can be applied generally the thesis examines problems faced by people with learning difficulties due to their relatively limited intellectual ability, communication skills and not least the particular social context in which many have lived, i.e. institutional care. The thesis begins by examining the problem of the appropriate social role for such people given the current intention to allow each person to develop to their full potential. This involves a discussion of social policy leading to a consideration of institutionalisation and its alternatives. Then the model of identity development is presented in terms both general and specific to people with learning difficulties. In the context of methods of assessment a particular form of assessment, The Chart of Initiative and Independence, is considered in the light of the main thesis of identity development. Its subsequent use is then analysed and compared with other approaches in different settings. The thesis concludes by appreciating the limitations of both the model of identity development and the C.I.I, and considering complementary approaches whilst underlining the significance of recognition of work in any setting.