To read this content please select one of the options below:

Integrating the Social and Political Dimensions of Disability Into Life Course Theory

bSyracuse University, USA

Disabilities and the Life Course

ISBN: 978-1-80455-202-5, eISBN: 978-1-80455-201-8

Publication date: 31 July 2023


The purpose of this chapter is to reconsider the five principles of Elder et al.'s (2003) life course theory while centering disability status as an axis of inequality. We use existing research from the fields of the sociology of disability, disability studies, and aging and the life course to reflect on ways in which each life course principle can better attend to the experiences of disabled people. We start with the principle of time and place and discuss how cohort and period effects facilitate a deeper understanding of disabled people's experiences historically. Next, we analyze the principle of timing with an emphasis on cumulative dis/advantage to establish how disability status is an axis of inequality that contributes to the accumulation of social disadvantage and intersects with other axes of inequality (e.g., race, class, and gender). Then, we discuss the two principles of agency and linked lives and employ the concept of “bounded agency” to describe how ableism limits the agency of disabled people. Finally, we examine the principle of life-span development and discuss how adaptation and resilience are contextual and an ordinary part of human experiences. We conclude by offering recommendations for both life course and disability scholars to consider in hopes of broadening our theoretical and empirical knowledge about the lives of disabled people at every stage of the life course and the mechanisms by which resources are stratified by disability and age.



Latham-Mintus, K. and Landes, S.D. (2023), "Integrating the Social and Political Dimensions of Disability Into Life Course Theory", Dillaway, H.E., Shandra, C.L. and Bender, A.A. (Ed.) Disabilities and the Life Course (Research in Social Science and Disability, Vol. 14), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 11-28.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023 Kenzie Latham-Mintus and Scott D. Landes. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited