This study explores the social construction of dyslexia as a therapeutic consumerist entity in Higher Education (HE) and its influence on students with dyslexia through highlighting marketisation reforms in HE. The paper aims to enquire about the social construction of dyslexia in HE sustaining its existence in higher education institutions (HEI). The continuing existence of dyslexia transforms students with dyslexia into explorers, real dyslexic and identity seekers/rebels and cynical dyslexic performers. This entity commodifies universities to become therapeutic services providers.
This study is conducted using Goffman’s (1959) theory of performance to analyse the influence of dyslexia on the behaviour of students with dyslexia in HE. The concept of dyslexia has inconsistent definitions associated with the medical model in HEIs. The main findings of this chapter are: There is an interplay between the construction of the concept of dyslexia, and students with dyslexia, lecturers and university. Based on Goffman (1956), the concept of dyslexia becomes the tool used to obtain support in HE. Students with dyslexia become performers by performing the role of the patient; the lecturers become the audience, and the university becomes the front/stage where students perform, their roles influenced by the marketisation reforms in HE. To explain the construction of the concept of dyslexia as an inconsistently defined tool for performance in HE, the concept of dyslexia is arguably contested due to its inconsistent prevalence rates, and claimed genetic and neurological origins.
Interpreting the conceptualisation of dyslexia in HE in the light of Goffman (1956), the conceptualisation of dyslexia in HE creates the front of the performance. In the case of dyslexia in HE, the university becomes the front where students with dyslexia perform the role of the patient. To synthesise Goffman (1959) with Collinson’s (2019) analysis of the biologisation of dyslexia, the concept of dyslexia as a therapeutic entity becomes a tool dramatic realisation creating the juxtaposition of dyslexia of real and cynical dyslexic performers. Viewing the concept of dyslexia as a progressive science reflected in medicalising dyslexia in HE through Goffman (1956), the medicalised concept of dyslexia becomes the tool lecturers in HE use to support students with dyslexia.