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Non-disabled – an oxymoron? Exploring the foundations of a divisive label Jennifer Harris University of York.

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Presentation on theme: "Non-disabled – an oxymoron? Exploring the foundations of a divisive label Jennifer Harris University of York."— Presentation transcript:

1 Non-disabled – an oxymoron? Exploring the foundations of a divisive label Jennifer Harris University of York

2 Why is the term problematic? 1. Few people enjoy total health today 2. The term is half of a dichotomy (disabled/non disabled). Cannot cope with fluctuating impairment statuses 3. It has divisive and exclusionary effects 4. Non-disabled cast as oppressors

3 Will the non-disabled stand up? Term is a relational concept within social model of disability, either/or disabled/non- disabled Combinations of pollution, workplace stress family pressures and accidents ensure most people experience disablement over the life course Is the term an oxymoron?

4 Disabled/non-disabled – its all relative Dichotomy cannot cope with fluctuation in impairment As a labelling system, it is crude and misleading. The stickiness of labels Are such people disabled one day and not the next?

5 The effects of the non-disabled label Non-disability is associated with oppressor role Applying this dichotomy is an over- simplification of complex relations in society If most people experience impairment in life, then theoretically all social policies would use the social model – why not?

6 Border crossing between disabled and non-disabled statuses Burchardt 2000.661/2 Only a small proportion of working-age people who experience disability are long- term disabled…the common perception that disabled and non-disabled people make up two entirely distinct and fixed groups in the population is misleading

7 Problems of non-disability In a given year one tenth of working age population are limited in daily activities In a 7 year period, one quarter experience some limitation (only 10% of these are disabled throughout) Therefore, disabled status is much more widespread than one-off surveys suggest, disabled category is more fluid than thought and border crossers in fact form the majority of the disabled population

8 Conclusion Social model theory does not adequately describe an experience of the majority classified as disabled – border crossing Viewed from a border crossing perspective the social model is a crude analytical tool Requirement is for a sophisticated framework that adequately describes social relations without resorting to a dichotomy


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