Lexism: Beyond the Social Model of Dyslexia

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


In this thesis a new concept called ‘Lexism' (the Othering and discrimination
of dyslexics) is proposed, outlined and defended. The dyslexia debate is currently in a state of deadlock. The origin of this stalemate is not an empirical problem but a conceptual one. The conceptual problems with dyslexia, and the existence of dyslexics, are both recognised, but the contradictions between them remain unresolved. For this reason a philosophical approach (influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein and Gilbert Ryle) has been adopted. First, the conceptual foundations are set out to enable the recognition of Lexism as a concept, and to reject the concept of dyslexia whilst recognising the existence of dyslexics. Second, Lexism as a concept, is evaluated, compared and contrasted with what some might consider to be the strongest existing account of dyslexics' social experiences, that of Riddick's (2001) social model of dyslexia. Third, the key aspects and features of Lexism as a new concept are set out. The original contribution to knowledge is that Lexism enables us to see that dyslexics are defined by Lexism not dyslexia.
Lexism, it is argued, in a certain sense, is comparable to, though not the same as, racism, sexism and homophobia. This enables us break the current deadlock and move away from sterile debates over dyslexia's existence, to how dyslexics are Othered by a literate society. Lexism raises new and significant implications for the dyslexia debate, but also government policy, educational practice, assessments and reasonable adjustments for dyslexics.
Date of Award1 Nov 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorLEON CULBERTSON (Director of Studies), DAMIEN SHORTT (Supervisor) & FIONA HALLETT (Supervisor)

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