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Title: Equality through the lens of disability : a case study
Author: Reay, R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6425 3453
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2017
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The concept of equality is complex and can be understood in a number of different ways. Treating everyone in the same way can lead to unfair outcomes and if these inequalities are to be avoided, it becomes necessary to identify significant differences which can be capable of providing justification for the unequal treatment necessary to avoid inequality. The Equality Act 2010 identifies significant differences in the form of "protected characteristics" and establishes a structure in which less favourable or unfavourable treatment on the basis of those characteristics can be identified and should be avoided. A literature review showed that much of the research conducted to date is difficult to apply to the current domestic context. Difficulties in application may arise because the research was carried out overseas or because it predates the Equality Act 2010. In addition, it was found that much of the existing research focuses on the experience of undergraduates and their tutors or does not specify the programme students were enrolled on. The University which was the subject of the case study operates within the structure of the Equality Act 2010 and makes a public commitment to equality. However, the commitment to equality is neither publically defined nor the subject of internal discussion and so, while all members of the University might agree on the desirability of equality, what the concept might mean in the context of the University and how it might be achieved remain unclear. The purpose of this research was to investigate how staff and students associated with or enrolled on a vocational course for postgraduates at the University think about equality and how they communicate those ideas to each other. The research takes a social constructivist stance, which is based on the understanding that experience of the real world is inevitably a construction resulting from perception, because interpretation of the real world is inevitable. Interviews were carried out with staff and students at the university and a number of different constructions of equality emerged which related to and were influenced by, the roles held by the participants at the university. Tutors were found to be cautious in their discussions of equality and generally located responsibility for achieving equality for students within the University with the Learning Support Department, although tutors also expressed the view that that Department did not understand the programme adequately so that support suggested for students was sometimes regarded as being inappropriate. Students took a fluid approach to their own identity and their construction of equality varied with their identity. Support staff were generally pragmatic in their approach. Suggestions are made for ways in which communication within the University could be improved and areas for future research are identified.
Supervisor: Brown, H. ; Qualter, A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral