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An Interpretation of disability in Grade 10 business studies textbooks in South Africa.

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In South Africa, the textbook is considered a crucial pedagogical tool used in the classroom, particularly in the subject of Business Studies. Textbooks are also a means of passing on societal values to learners. From this perspective, there is a need to understand the concept of disability as it is presented in textbooks, as well as the values passed down to learners regarding people with disabilities. The purpose of this study is to interpret the portrayal of disability in Grade 10 Business Studies textbooks within the South African context. This qualitative study is situated in the interpretive paradigm and draws on critical theory as the theoretical framework of the study. The research employs Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as the analytical tool for this study to probe the texts for any hidden ideologies in relation to disability that may have been present. A purposive sample of eight Grade 10 Business Studies was selected to explore the phenomenon of disability as it is presented in the textbooks. The findings of the study were discussed according to the following themes that emerged from the texts: workplace discrimination among previously disadvantaged groups, such as people of colour, women and people with disabilities, where people with disabilities are professionally discriminated against; exclusion of people with disabilities from the world of work due to negative stereotypes of being incapable and incompetent, as well as due to the added cost of making appropriate accommodations for them at work; legislation enacted to facilitate the inclusion of people with disabilities into society and the workplace, as well as legislation directed at the eradication of discrimination against people with disabilities, is unsuccessful due to a lack of proper implementation. Textbooks also contained subliminal messaging, with the implementers of legislation exerting power and control over the disabled; and implications for inclusivity in businesses revealed underlying authoritative tones on the part of the state when addressing businesses with regards to practicing inclusivity. In conclusion, the textbooks under study were found to reinforce negative stereotypic notions of people with disabilities as victims of discrimination facing exclusion from society, specifically in the context of the workplace. From the findings, a recommendation that cognisance be paid to the negative societal values contained in these textbooks.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.