The Politics of Race, Class and Special Education: The selected works of Sally Tomlinson, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Politics of Race, Class and Special Education

The selected works of Sally Tomlinson, 1st Edition

By Sally Tomlinson


180 pages

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In the World Library of Educationalists series, international experts themselves compile career-long collections of what they judge to be their finest pieces – extracts from books, key articles, salient research findings, major theoretical and practical contributions – so the world can read them in a single manageable volume. Readers will be able to follow the themes and strands and see how their work contributes to the development of the field.

Professor Sally Tomlinson brings together 12 of her key writings in one place, including chapters from her best-selling books and articles from leading journals.

In this landmark publication she reviews and recounts the history and development of her research and writing over 30 years that is concerned with the politics of education systems, especially special education, and the place of social classes and ethnic and racial minorities in the systems.

Social class, race and gender have historically always been essential markers in deciding who would receive a minimum or inferior education and thus fail to obtain whatever were currently acceptable qualifications. Definitions of the ‘less able’ or ineducable were based on beliefs in the biological and cultural inferiority of lower social classes, racial and immigrant groups. Professor Tomlinson’s aim in her work has always been to introduce sociological, historical and political perspectives into an area dominated by psychological, administrative and technical views and to explain how the individual ‘problems’ were connected to wider social structures and policies. This unique collection illustrates the development of Professor Tomlinson’s thinking over the course of her long and esteemed career.


"This book is an excellent read and has much to teach researchers in both the sociology of education and those in inclusive or special education. The former will learn that there is a whole other universe out there; a shadow industry that mops up the mess created by their own. The latter will learn how to think more critically and more broadly about that shadow industry; helping them to realise that the object of their inquiry is an artefact of 'deliberate decisions by people who have the power to make the decisions.'" - Linda J. Graham, Queensland University of Technology, International Journal on School Disaffection

"A a comprehensive anthology that reveals the intersections among education, social class, race, and politics … this book can function as a practical resource book for scholars and practitioners seeking to gain an international perspective on how economics, race, and politics contribute to the expansion of special education and the worldwide marginalization of ethnic minority students." —Teachers College Record

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: A Sociological perspective 2. Class Analysis and Colonial Immigrants 3. A Sociology of Special Education. 4. The expansion of special Education 5 Conflicts and Dilemmas for Professionals in special education. 6 The Irresistible rise of the SEN industry 7 The Radical-Structuralist view of special education 8 Race and special education 9 The British national identity 10 Educational reforms-ideologies and visions 11 Home-School links 12 Education in a Post-welfare society 13 Low Attainers in a global knowledge economy 14 Disability in Somaliland

About the Author

Sally Tomlinson is Emeritus Professor at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Education, University of Oxford.

Information about her and a complete list of her published work can be found at

About the Series

World Library of Educationalists

The World Library of Educationalists celebrates the important contributions to education made by leading experts in their individual fields of study. Each scholar has compiled a career-long collection of what they consider to be their finest pieces: extracts from books, journals, articles, major theoretical and practical contributions, and salient research findings.

For the first time ever the work of each contributor is presented in a single volume so readers can follow the themes and progress of their work and identify the contributions made to, and the development of, the fields themselves.

The distinguished careers of the selected experts span at least two decades and include Richard Aldrich, Stephen J. Ball, Elliot W. Eisner, John Elliott, Howard Gardner, John Gilbert, Ivor F. Goodson, David Hargreaves, David Labaree and E.C. Wragg.

Each book in the series features a specially written introduction by the contributor giving an overview of their career, contextualizing their selection within the development of the field, and showing how their own thinking developed over time.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Special Education / General
EDUCATION / Inclusive Education