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Article

Pieter Verstraete

During the last two decennia ‘disability’ increasingly has been considered by various academic disciplines like sociology, literature, social sciences, geography and…

Abstract

During the last two decennia ‘disability’ increasingly has been considered by various academic disciplines like sociology, literature, social sciences, geography and history as a fresh and innovative analytical category with the transformative potential of race, gender, class and sexuality. At the heart of this development is a comprehensive transformation of what is understood by ‘disability’. Traditionally, ‘disability’ was considered to be nothing more than an objective and invariable part of the human body. Nowadays ‘disability’ is primarily presented as the contingent result of the complex and manifold interactions between an individual’s body and its surrounding multilayered reality. This new meaning ofdisability’ especially has been put forward by what has come to be known as Disability Studies.

Details

History of Education Review, vol. 38 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0819-8691

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Book part

Allison C. Carey

Purpose – This chapter examines the ways in which community has been discussed and pursued within American disability politics. It shows the various, often contradictory…

Abstract

Purpose – This chapter examines the ways in which community has been discussed and pursued within American disability politics. It shows the various, often contradictory, understandings of community in play and examines the strengths and weaknesses of various strategies used to create community.

Methodology/approach – Using comparative historical techniques of analysis, this chapter compares different conceptualizations of community as they are used by activists and in policies.

Findings – While “community” is often an ideal embedded in activists' aspirations, historically it has meant very different things. The assumptions embedded in the idea of community affect the strategies and policies pursued by activists.

Practical and social implications – Each strategy to pursue community has advantages and disadvantages. Community as place leads to clear policy objectives, but often fails to achieve meaningful relational transformations. Community as social capital focuses on building social relationships, but leaves unaddressed membership in the national community and issues of citizenship. Ideals of community based on insider/outsider distinctions can be effective at unifying a group, but encourages the exclusion of others. Community as social citizenship demands the state uphold a commitment to support all citizens, but is often politically unpalatable. These ideas of community are often used together, sometimes to build upon one another, and other times in ways that are contradictory.

Originality/value of the chapter – Community is a lauded yet elusive goal. This chapter contributes to our understanding of disability politics and the tensions in creating “community.”

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Disability and Community
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-800-8

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Book part

Stephen Meyers

Purpose: Researchers and advocates alike have noted that persons with disabilities and older persons are the two groups most marginalized by neoliberal economic policies…

Abstract

Purpose: Researchers and advocates alike have noted that persons with disabilities and older persons are the two groups most marginalized by neoliberal economic policies and therefore could come together as a broad-based movement against the roll back of their rights. Yet, these two groups fail to collaborate, and instead compete against one another for an ever-shrinking pool of benefits. This chapter explores the barriers to their collaboration within the context of structural adjustment in Jamaica.

Methods/Approach: The author engages in a critical analysis of neoliberalism's effect on the advocacy strategies of the disability and older persons' movements in Jamaica based on 32 semi-directed depth interviews, participant observation of numerous events, and a survey of media written by local advocates.

Findings: The disability movement makes claims on behalf of their members by focusing on the potential returns that society will gain by providing the opportunities that will make young persons with disabilities productive employees over their lifetime. The older persons' movement advocates by portraying themselves as “vibrant” and worthy of social investment because of the contributions they make. Both of these arguments for inclusion are also exclusionary. The disability movement excludes older persons as potential contributors and the older persons' movement similarly excludes persons with disabilities.

Implications: The only way neoliberalism will successfully be rolled back and universal rights returned is if the disability movement and older persons' movements build an alliance that is more inclusive, including of one another, by rejecting the language of investment and productivity, and instead focus on rights and inherent dignity.

Details

Disability Alliances and Allies
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-322-7

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Book part

Míriam Arenas Conejo

The text explores the feminist concept of intersectionality and its adoption within disability studies. The aim is to analyze how feminist and disability movements and…

Abstract

Purpose

The text explores the feminist concept of intersectionality and its adoption within disability studies. The aim is to analyze how feminist and disability movements and theories have managed the issue of struggling against oppression and for equality while acknowledging internal diversity.

Methodology/approach

Literature review based on the concepts of intersectionality, disabled women, and disability and diversity seeking for explicit and implicit confluences and emerging implications at different levels: social movements, theoretical developments, and policymaking.

Findings

Intersectionality is a minor field within disability studies. However, diversity and multiple oppression issues have been addressed by the disability rights movement, after disabled women introduced feminist principles. This intersection of disability and feminist studies has transformed both fields, and at the same time fostered a new paradigm. It situates the claims on the similarities between disabled and nondisabled people, instead of focusing on identity politics.

Social implications

The chapter acknowledges social movements as key actors in generating and developing significant debates, both in feminist and disability studies. Moreover, it seeks for conceptual tools that promote alliance-building strategies between oppressed groups in the struggle for social justice.

Originality/value

The chapter presents overall perspective of what intersectionality is and how the disability rights movement has addressed it, while seeking broader implications of the analysis of multiple inequalities.

Details

Disability and Intersecting Statuses
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-157-1

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Book part

Shixin Huang

Purpose: The purpose of this chapter is to scrutinize the apparent alliance between international and local disability rights movements by contextualizing the process in…

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this chapter is to scrutinize the apparent alliance between international and local disability rights movements by contextualizing the process in which the disability rights model is being diffused globally. It seeks to critically examine the transplantation and promotion of the international disability rights movement's rights-based model in China.

Approach: This chapter draws from 18 in-depth interviews with local and international disability rights activists through multisite ethnographic fieldwork in China in 2019.

Findings: This chapter finds that despite opening up spaces for resistance and emancipation locally, the international disability rights movement nevertheless constitutes what I call an enclave of rights that insulates the international rights model from the political, social, and economic realities on the ground. In the case of China, the authoritarian politics that define the relationship between the state and civil society, as well as the economic vulnerability of people with disabilities in the post-socialist market economy, limit, if not invalidate, the rights model espoused by the international disability rights movement.

Implications: The findings of this chapter challenge and complicate the current scholarship of the transnational disability rights movement beyond its normative claims of emancipation. They also explore potential spaces and direction for building a new transnational alliance that takes into account the local experience of disability in a rapidly globalized world.

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Book part

Corinne Kirchner

A forward thrust drives the theoretical narrative of disability-in-society, as told by scholars of recent decades. Consider these titles (with emphases added): From Stigma

Abstract

A forward thrust drives the theoretical narrative of disability-in-society, as told by scholars of recent decades. Consider these titles (with emphases added): From Stigma to Identity Politics: Political Activism among the Physically Disabled and Former Mental Patients by Anspach (1979); From Good Will to Civil Rights by Scotch (1984); Moving Disability Beyond Stigma a collection edited by Asch and Fine (1988); The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation by Fleischer and Zames (2001). Each title is like a revved-up engine. Together, they convey a message of forward movement in the status of people with disabilities. The road they all travel starts from a negative starting point and ends at a clear and a more desirable, if not yet perfect, destination. The starting point is the subordinated and powerless status of persons with disabilities – a status based on stigma wrapped in pity. The destination: empowerment. These analyses focus on the United States; their authors, while not all sociologists, are close enough for our purpose. The road they all cover starts (chronologically speaking) around the 1940s, and extends – in the case of the earliest – up to the late 1970s; two others cover up to the mid- and late 1980s; and the last one, to the current century.

Details

Disability as a Fluid State
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-377-5

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Book part

Kay Inckle

In this chapter, the author critically examines the relationship between sociology and the identities/experiences of disability and ‘mental illness’ (referred to…

Abstract

In this chapter, the author critically examines the relationship between sociology and the identities/experiences of disability and ‘mental illness’ (referred to throughout as distress). The author argues that despite sociology having an ethos of social justice and frequently producing critical accounts of inequalities – such as anti-racism and gender equality – it nonetheless uncritically reiterates the marginalisation of disability and distress. As such, sociology not only reflects the increasing ‘medicalisation of everyday life’ and shores up the essentialist discourses of genetics and neuroscience, but also consigns research and knowledge production about disability and distress to the medical sciences. The author challenges these sociological conventions and highlights the ways in which both disability and distress are socially structured, embodied experiences. The author argues that a sociological account of distress and disability are important not only in and of themselves, but also because they highlight the ways and means to challenge essentialism, inequality and the ever-narrowing definition of what is considered a normal or acceptable part of human experience. Furthermore, vibrant streams of user-led research, activism and practice-interventions – resulting in widespread social, legal and identity transformations – have emerged from the experiences of disability and distress. These user-led perspectives highlight the importance and potential of knowledge produced from the margins, not only for those experiencing disability and/or distress but also for the ways in which we perceive, theorise and research the social world more broadly.

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Subcultures, Bodies and Spaces: Essays on Alternativity and Marginalization
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-512-8

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Article

Paul Cambridge

This paper explores the ethical issues surrounding the use of cosmetic surgery for and by people with learning disabilities. Although such interventions are less common in…

Abstract

This paper explores the ethical issues surrounding the use of cosmetic surgery for and by people with learning disabilities. Although such interventions are less common in Britain than in the US, there is a growing interest in the use of cosmetic surgery to correct perceived defects in appearance and speech impairment. However, the assumed potential of cosmetic surgery brings adult protection concerns into stark relief.

Details

The Journal of Adult Protection, vol. 4 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1466-8203

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Article

Chelsea Jones and Fiona Cheuk

Often, researchers view silence as antagonistic to equity-aimed projects. Because verbal, written, and textually agentive communications are presumed to be the most valid…

Abstract

Purpose

Often, researchers view silence as antagonistic to equity-aimed projects. Because verbal, written, and textually agentive communications are presumed to be the most valid qualitative-research data, moments of silence are under-analyzed. Yet, we argue that silence holds meaning as data and that it is a valid, rich form of communication.

Design/methodology/approach

Through this reflective analysis of silence, we invite readers to reconceptualize silence in research from a critical disability-research perspective with emphasis on crip willfulness. We introduce silence as an interpretive, agentive and relational gesture.

Findings

We attend to silence as necessary in all research because it helps researchers excavate able-bodied expectations about communication in qualitative-data-collection practices.

Originality/value

We demonstrate that silences in research can be an interpretive, relational, and agentive gesture that can teach us about taken-for-granted assumptions about research practices. Revisiting our research encounters with this framing of silence informed by critical disability studies allows us to question how traditional social science research methods value some modalities of expression over others. Rather than viewing silence in research as moments when nothing happens, we show that silence indicates something happening and is valid data.

Details

Qualitative Research Journal, vol. 21 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1443-9883

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Book part

Melissa Jane Welch

The purpose of this paper is to unpack the tenuous relationship between medical sociology and disability studies, particularly as it relates to the work of Irving Zola.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to unpack the tenuous relationship between medical sociology and disability studies, particularly as it relates to the work of Irving Zola.

Findings

Many attribute the division between these disciplines to their starkly different and oft competing approaches to disability; however, I argue that a closer examination reveals a number of commonalities between the two.

Implications

I use Irving K. Zola’s extensive body of scholarship to demonstrate the connections between these divergent approaches to disability, and imagine what his legacy has to offer to the advancement of a diverse sociology of disability.

Value

Neither focus is more correct than the other, as considering these bodies of work together presents a number of opportunities to advance a more comprehensive sociological theory – not just of disability – but of ableism and its intersections with other forms of oppression as well.

Details

Sociology Looking at Disability: What Did We Know and When Did We Know it
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-478-5

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