Presentation on theme: "Disability Studies A Nordic Perspective"— Presentation transcript:
1 Disability Studies A Nordic Perspective Disability Studies ConferenceLancaster, July 2004Rannveig TraustadóttirFaculty of Social ScienceUniversity of Iceland
2 Disability Studies A Nordic Perspective OverviewThe Nordic contextNordic Disability Studies/Disability ResearchSimilarities and difference with UK Disability studiesIs there a Nordic model of disability?Understanding disabilityTheoretical approachesThe social model of disability from a Nordic perspectiveDisability studies as a fieldFuture of Nordic - UK connections
3 The Nordic Context Five Nordic countries Three self-governing regions Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway & SwedenThree self-governing regionsÅland Islands, Faeroe Islands & GreenlandLapland - Sami people in the NorthCrossing Norway, Sweden, Finland & North Russia
4 Nordic Situatedness and Politics of Location How do we handle our located situatedness?Empirical researchlocated in own countrylessons from otherslessons for othersDomination of UK and USAimportant contributionsdominating and generalizedNon–English/ Non–UK/USAmust decide if we locate us or generalizeproblems of language and translations
5 Disability & Disability Studies in the Nordic Countries Historical and political context 1960s/70sCitizenship and equality – basic principles and values of the welfare stateThe principle of normalization was formulated in the Nordic countriesDisabled people’s movementIndependent living movementWelfare provisions and human rights should be extended to all, including disabled people
6 Disability & Disability Studies in the Nordic Countries? Historical and political context 1960s/70sCritique of institutions – unacceptable living conditions and human rights violationsCritique of medical understanding of disabilitySociety and the environment should be be changed so disabled people could participate‘Environmental turn’ - The focus shifted from the individual as the sole problem to include the social contextTop down reforms
7 NNDR Nordic Network on Disability Research 1992 FUN, Forskning om utveklingshemming I Norden(Nordic Intellectual Disability Research)1997 NNDR, Nordic Network on Disability Research1999 SJDR, Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research
8 Nordic Disability Research From NNDR StatutesNNDR is a multidisciplinary network of disability researchers interested in cultural, societal and environmental dimensions of disability and marginalization.The purpose and intention of NNDR is to promote and advance research and development in the field of disability.
9 Nordic Disability Research cont… From NNDR Statutes cont…NNDR provides a forum for disability researchers, particularly from the Nordic countries, to meet, present, and discuss their research, as well as encouraging Nordic and international exchange and collaboration.
10 UK Disability Studies From Lancaster 2004 conference Disability Studies is concerned with the inter-disciplinary development of an increasing body of knowledge and practice, which has arisen from the activities of the disabled people’s movement, and which has come to be known as ‘the social model of disability.’
11 UK Disability Studies cont… From Lancaster conference cont.The social model of disability locates the changing character of disability, which is viewed as an important dimension of inequality, in the social and economic structure and culture of the society in which it is found, rather than in individual limitations.
12 Two Major Differences UK focus: Nordic focus: Disability Studies The social model of disabilityNordic focus:Disability ResearchNo one single theory or model of disability
13 Is there a Nordic Model of Disability? No one single way or approach but a ‘family of ideas’The Nordic relational model/approachThree main characteristicsDisability is a person-environment mismatch (relationship/relational)Disability is situational or contextualDisability is relative(Tøssebro 2002, 2004)
14 Understanding of Disability in the Nordic Countries Issues of Language‘Disability’ is an umbrella term for groups of people with different impairmentsNo unity within the Nordic countries about language useThe distinction between ‘disability’ and ‘impairment’ does not translate well into Nordic languages‘Disabled people’ or ‘People with disabilities’The term ‘disability studies’ is also difficult to translate into some Nordic languages
15 Nordic Disability Studies Many disability scholarsMany disability focused coursesSingle courses as part of other programs (social work, education, …)Few disability studies programs - but are being developed – mostly MA programsDoctoral students in many fields focus their work on disabilityNot a clear definition of ‘disability studies’DS and ‘traditional’ disability focused programs (rehab., special ed., …)
16 Theoretical Development in Nordic Disability Research Most Nordic Disability research has been practical empirical policy oriented researchMain characteristics (Gustavsson 2004)Non-theoretical approachesThe reformer’s perspective(‘does-it-work’ approach)Personal experiences(‘Experience-near perspectives’)
17 Theoretical Development in Nordic Disability Research Three main theoretical perspectivesEssentialist perspectivesIndividual essentialism – the clinical modelContextual essentialism – the social modelConstructionist perspectivesLinguistic constructionismCultural constructionismRelative interactionist perspectiveThe most Nordic – originates in 1960s/70s as an alternative to the more individual, essential definitions of disability
18 Theoretical Development in Nordic Disability Research Relative interactionist perspectiveTakes the relative definition of disability seriouslyEmphasizes a multi level approach and analysisEmpirical sensitivityDifferent versions of the relative interactionist perspective can be identified
19 Approaches to Disability in the Nordic Countries Given the most common understanding of disability and the theoretical approaches in Nordic disability researchthere is a firm believe that no one theory, approach, method or model can bring all the answersinstead we must employ multiple ways and approaches - and keep looking for new onesthe complexity of human existence calls for multiple and complex methods and approaches
20 UK Social Model of Disability and the Nordic Countries UK social model has received much attention among Nordic scholars, disabled people and professionalsThe social model is in line with dominant understanding of disability in the Nordic countriesHas worked to re-vitalize and radicalize discussions and debatesLiberating for disabled peopleHas directed Nordic attention to UK Disability Studies
21 UK Social Model of Disability and the Nordic Countries The ‘disability’ – ‘impairment’ debate is confusing and not easily understandable in the Nordic landsWhich social model?Is there one social model?Linking DS to one model is difficult for Nordic scholars to relate toHas been criticized by Nordic scholars
22 UK and Nordic Disability Studies Similarities and Differences Social and environmental emphasisCommitment to disability rights political agenda - and activismDisabled researchersLinks to disabled people andthe disabled people’s movementTheoretical perspectivesIssues of accessibilityTwo major contributionsNordic: NormalizationUK: Social model of disabilityInternational influence
23 Disability StudiesBelongs to a group of ‘new’ multidisciplinary fields, e.g.Feminist/women’s/gender studiesLesbian and gay/queer studiesEthnic minority studies
24 Disability Studies and Other Multidisciplinary Fields of Study SimilaritiesRoots in social movements aimed to end oppression and marginalizationScholarship and activismOpposition to hegemonic normalcyCritique of dominant theoriesChallenging key conceptsDevelopment of new methodologiesThe biological and the socialEssentialism and constructivismAnd much more …
25 Disability Studies and Other Multidisciplinary Fields of Study DifferencesAt least one significant difference between DS and the other fields: Society has put in place service industry to ‘deal with’ disabled people and devotes much resources to itOther differencesHow big is the group in questionThe individual’s relationship to the groupHistorical, social and cultural contextAnd more…
26 Disability Studies and Other Multidisciplinary Fields of Study What can DS learn from the other fields?How did they start and develop?Why are some flourishing and others experiencing backlash?Historical and cultural contextsPlace in the academy (disciplinary affiliation, independent programs or integrated courses)‘Fragmentation’ of the fieldsSurvival strategies
27 Nordic – UK Future Collaboration NNDR has made conscious efforts to connect with UK disability scholarsExciting ideas, debates, sophisticated theorizing, innovative methods, etc.Geographical neighborsMany similarities, social, cultural, political, etc.From a Nordic perspectivethese connections have been wonderful; challenging, expanding, fruitful and inspiring on a scholarly level - andvery rewarding on a personal level
28 Nordic - UK Future Collaboration NNDR effortsWorking language of NNDR is EnglishNNDR conferences are in EnglishSJDR is an English language journalEnglish language series on Nordic disability research is being publishedWe invite, encourage, welcome and respect multiple and various perspectives
29 Nordic - UK Future Collaboration and Contacts Next NNDR conferenceOslo, NorwayApril 14 – 16, 2005orWe welcome people from the UKand other countries
30 ReferencesGustavsson, A. (2004). The role of theory in disability research: Springboard or strait-jacket? Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, Special Issue: Understanding Disability. 6(1),Tøssebro, J. (2002). Leaving the individual out: Practical and logical problems. Paper presented at a Plenary Symposium “Understanding disability: The UK Social Model and the Nordic Relational Approach” at the 6th NNDR Conference, Disability Research, Theory and Practice, 22 – 24 August, Reykjavík, Iceland.Tøssebro, J. (2004). Understanding disability: Introduction to the special issues of SJDR. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, Special Issue: Understanding Disability. 6(1), 3 – 7.