ERIC Number: ED373425
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994
The Cycle of Student Labels in Education: The Case of Culturally Deprived/Disadvantaged and At Risk.
Are new labels for stigmatized groups of students merely new packaging for old meanings? Is this linguistic illusion of change an aspect of education as an institution and of educators as a speech community? To address these questions, this paper examines labels popularized in the 1960s--"culturally deprived/disadvantaged," and "at-risk," a label of the 1980s that some have argued is synonymous with the earlier terms. This paper synthesizes work in sociolinguistics, history, and policy analysis to develop a theoretical framework for understanding this phenomenon of the repeated replacement of student labels that mark highly charged cultural boundaries such as race and class. Findings are presented from a study that examined the uses of "culturally deprived/disadvantaged" and "at risk" over time in educational journals and books, supplemented by a review of historical interpretations of the 1960s and 1980s. The data lend support to a theoretical framework for understanding cases of lexical replacement in the domain of terms for stigmatized groups of students. However, one label does not simply replace the previous one. Rather, the new label reflects something new about the political context, the current ways of interpreting differences and mediating cultural boundaries. Labels delineate "us/them" boundaries that are perceived by "us," who are culturally undeprived and not-at-risk, as fundamental and threatening differences. Three figures are included. (Contains 105 references.) (LMI)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New Orleans, LA, April 4-8, 1994).