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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/30101

Title: Weight-based Stigma and Deficit Thinking about Obesity in Schools: How Neoliberal Conceptions of Obesity Are Contributing to Weight-based Stigma
Authors: O'Connor, Linda Kathleen
Advisor: Portelli, John P.
Department: Theory and Policy Studies in Education
Keywords: obesity
deficit thinking
Issue Date: 29-Nov-2011
Abstract: This thesis examines weight-based stigma in schools, and examines body size as an issue of difference, subject to discrimination, from within a critical democratic framework. I raise a paradox when it comes to dealing with the issue of obesity; we don’t want to say that weight is within individual control, however, we don’t want to say obesity is outside individual control and nothing can be done to affect it. Neoliberal conceptions of obesity in Western countries are highly individualistic, and blame obese individuals for failing to adhere to social norms. This leads to deficit thinking about obese individuals, wherein a group of students are seen as inherently deficient. Turning to Freire’s conception of ethics, which calls for respect for all students, it becomes clear that conceiving of a group of students as inherently deficient is unethical. This then renders the neoliberal conception of obesity unethical. I then offer pedagogically and ethically sound alternatives to current practices.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/30101
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