Does anybody like being disabled? A critical exploration of impairment, identity, media and everyday experience in a disabling society.
Cameron, C. (2010) Does anybody like being disabled? A critical exploration of impairment, identity, media and everyday experience in a disabling society., no. 288.
I offer a critical exploration of tensions experienced by disabled people in the construction of positive identities in everyday contexts in which self-understanding is shaped both by social structural relations of inequality and unique individual experience. The empirical evidence I use to develop and support my thesis involves data I have generated using a variety of data collection tools, through a series of interviews, conversations and observations carried out with sixteen disabled people across Scotland and England. I argue that while certain barriers to participation in ordinary community life may be being removed, perceptions of impairment as something ‘wrong’ with the bodies of disabled people remain embedded in dominant disability discourse. There is a structural purpose underlying the continued representation of impairment as misfortune, involving the ascription of a negative role – the disabled role – to those whose bodily configurations pose a challenge to requirements of conformity. Drawing on insights generated in my research, and building on an idea originally proposed by John Swain and Sally French in 2000, I have developed a clarified affirmative model of disability. This I intend as a tool to be used by people with impairments in making sense of the disabling social relations they encounter in everyday contexts, to be used alongside the social model in gaining knowledge to unsettle mainstream assumptions which can only recognise impairment as personal tragedy.