Constructions of Disability: Researching the Interface between Disabled and Non-Disabled People

Constructions of Disability: Researching the Interface between Disabled and Non-Disabled People

Constructions of Disability: Researching the Interface between Disabled and Non-Disabled People

Constructions of Disability: Researching the Interface between Disabled and Non-Disabled People

Synopsis

'Constructions of Disability' discusses the meanings of 'inclusion' through an exploration of the interactions between non-disabled and disabled people at a community leisure centre.

Excerpt

This book explores some of the ways in which constructions of disability can affect disabled people’s chances of inclusion in ordinary mainstream social environments. Through a detailed investigation of social interactions between disabled and non-disabled people in one such setting—a leisure centre—it explores a range of factors that can affect people’s ability to relate to each other, and what parts both individual and structural constructions of disability can play in the ongoing process of creating inclusion and exclusion. In so doing, the book demonstrates some of the ways in which people may use disability and impairment as reasons to either put up barriers between themselves and others, or as the basis of establishing common ground, depending on the situation and the circumstances in which they find themselves.

At the outset I should explain that, although the research discussed here took place in a recreational setting, and the data was collected using a range of ethnographic research methods, this book is not a conventional ethnographic study of a leisure centre. In other words, it will not tell you everything you ever wanted to know about how a leisure centre operates, nor does it offer a detailed analysis of the economics and politics of leisure provision in Britain today, although these issues are touched upon in some of the discussion that follows. Instead, the leisure centre here forms a situational backdrop to the relationships between disabled and non-disabled people which are the primary focus of this research. In this account, it is principally those interactions that are foregrounded and analysed, and not the setting as a whole. This is achieved largely through the relatively unusual device of using myself as simultaneously researcher and research subject, and by recording the ways in which disability was constructed through other people’s responses to me and to the other disabled people I met in the course of the research. As a result, what follows is in part an exploration of who I was in that setting. By deconstructing my multiple identities at the leisure centre, I will show something of the complexity of who I was in that setting, as well as uncovering some of the ways that non-disabled people’s multiple identities were equally implicated in the range of ways in which they responded to me and to the other disabled . . .

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