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Culling the sacred cows: from disability slogans to disability studies

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1 Culling the sacred cows: from disability slogans to disability studies
Dr Tom Shakespeare University of Newcastle

2 Debating the social model
Devised within UPIAS, 1970s Becomes ‘big idea’ of disability movement Academic formulation in Finkelstein (1980) and Oliver (1990) Challenges during the 1990s Practical/political flaws (Morris, Crow, French) Theoretical flaws (Tremain, Shakespeare & Watson) Debate continues

3 The social model as a tool
Nobody denies the benefits of the social model. But social model exclusivity is an obstacle to progress. “Give a person a hammer, and everything becomes a nail” “If I had a hammer” Mike Oliver argues that the social model is a tool which works to achieve social change for disabled people

4 Requirements of a political position
Simple: easy to understand, apply, shout Direct: this is the priority Mobilising: private problem to public issue Persuasive: emotional resonance Personal benefit: psychological pay off Political benefit: identity building

5 Positions or slogans? Rights not charity! Piss on pity!
We do not need care! Disabled by society, not by our bodies! Free our people! No Nazi eugenics!

6 “Make everything as simple as possible
“Make everything as simple as possible. But not simpler” Albert Einstein “I do not trust fervour. Every time it has burst out somewhere it has brought fire, famine, misery... And contempt for man. Fervour is the weapon of choice of the impotent.” Frantz Fanon

7 Requirements of academic positions
Consistent Logical Coherent Supported by empirical evidence Credible Accessible Relevent Engaged

8 Role of disability studies
1. Take your lead from organisations OF disabled people (emancipatory research). Develop political positions. OR 2.Challenge. Test. Develop thinking. Find evidence. Deepen understandings. Apply theory. Develop academic positions. Ask the difficult questions…

9 Karl Marx, Eleventh Thesis on Feuerbach
Philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point however, is to change it. Karl Marx, Eleventh Thesis on Feuerbach

10 Thinking the unthinkable?
Impairment prevention is often desirable People are disabled by their bodies, not just by society Many disabled people would like a cure Some special schools do a very good job Many charities do much good work Some disabled people want to live in residential situations and that’s okay Non disabled parents and carers have an important role in advocating for their disabled family members

11 What is wrong with charity?
Legal status? Third sector: not state or market Voluntary ethos Charity as large bureaucracies Institutionalisation Charity advertising Fund raising Not controlled by disabled people?

12 What is right with charity?
Caritas – love – ‘The true revolutionary is guided by strong feelings of love’ (Che Guevara) Mutual aid Charity not incompatible with rights “Charity is impossible without justice, but justice without charity is deformed.” (Levinas)

13 Ways forward for disability studies?
Open debate, accept pluralism Question everything Distinguish emotion from logic – make a place for both Gather empirical evidence Learn from other social movements Remain relevant, accessible, engaged

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