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1 People with learning disabilities and adulthood Disability Studies Association Conference Lancaster University September 18-20 2006 Anna M. Kittelsaa.

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Presentation on theme: "1 People with learning disabilities and adulthood Disability Studies Association Conference Lancaster University September 18-20 2006 Anna M. Kittelsaa."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 People with learning disabilities and adulthood Disability Studies Association Conference Lancaster University September Anna M. Kittelsaa Norwegian University of Science and Technology

2 2 The study Study of the daily lives of 8 young adults Research methods: participant observations, field conversations and interviews Have known the participants for 18 – 20 months

3 3 The Norwegian Context Members of welfare society – entitled to certain services and benefits Sheltered living, segregated work and often segregated leisure activities Income: disability benefits

4 4 Adult status in Western societies: examples Production and reproduction Civil rights Internal qualities: independence, autonomy, competency External markers: work, marriage / co-habitation, parenting, voting

5 5 The content of my paper Point of departure: the notion of eternal child or eternal youth Some narratives told by the participants in my study organised around external and internal markers of adulthood Challenging the taken-for-granted perspectives of adulthood by stating our common interdependence

6 6 External markers of adulthood according to the participants Work Leaving home Take responsibility of ones home and economy Marriage or co-habitation Voting

7 7 Internal markers of adulthood according to the participants Developing self-sufficiency Competency Takes time to reach the goal Enjoying life

8 8 To be an adult and to be seen as one Important for the participants to communicate their adult status They know the central markers of adulthood and present themselves accordingly

9 9 However: As eternal children or youth – they are excluded from real participation in society The segregated arrangements and services signal that the participants are not fully able to decide for themselves Often met by paternalistic attitudes

10 10 Challenging myths The independent and autonomous individual is a myth because during a life course we are all dependent The participants know that they need some assistance, but do not accept that as a prerequisite for being denied full adult status


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