Definition and commentary

The term disadvantaged has been used frequently in recent education policy to denote those living in poverty and/or in an area of high social deprivation. Concerns to reduce the impact of disadvantage on educational outcomes underpin key policy initiatives such as The Children's Plan and Every Child Matters . It has been suggested that this focus on disadvantage has encouraged the association of individuals and communities with forms of deficit that divert attention from the structural factors that give rise to it. A piece of research carried out by Lloyd and O'Regan (2000), challenges the tendency to view those characterised as disadvantaged as powerless. It emphasises that the young women interviewed had exercised agency and made choices in their lives, even though these had been constrained by their social and economic circumstances (see below for full reference).


Lloyd, G. and O’ Regan, O. (2000) ‘You Have to Learn to Love Yourself ‘Cos No One Else Will.’ Young Women with “Social, Emotional or Behavioural Difficulties” and the Idea of the Underclass, Gender and Education, 12, 1, pp 39 - 52.

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Louise Gazeley, University of Sussex

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