Disability, Human Rights and Education: Cross Cultural Perspectives

By Felicity Armstrong; Len Barton | Go to book overview

10

Experience-near perspectives on
disabled people's rights in Sweden

Anders Gustavsson


Overview

In a study of the everyday life of intellectually disabled people who have grown up in the Swedish welfare state of the 1970s and 1980s, two different perspectives on disabled people's rights were identified: one a rightsdisability perspective, where special rights presuppose a certain helplessness in the form of a lack of competence and autonomy; the other a rights-ability perspective, where competence and autonomy are seen as possible to achieve by means of the special rights. Educational programmes and public services are likely to be influenced by the presuppositions of the current perspective. In order to empower disabled people it seems important to support the second perspective. However, the question is raised whether such a shift in perspectives could also mean reduced public support for the whole idea of rights to special services.


Experience-near understandings of human rights

During recent decades human rights have been discussed more and more often in the field of disability research, sometimes in association with evaluations of integration and inclusion. According to academic traditions, most researchers have denned and discussed such rights in terms of scientific concepts relating them to existing theories and frames of reference. A frequently used such theoretical framework is Τ. H. Marshall's (1965) theory of citizenship, in which he analyses citizenship in terms of three dimensions: civil rights, political rights and social rights.

However, concepts and understandings of disabled people themselves are surprisingly seldom discussed. The American anthropologist Clifford Geertz (1983) makes a distinction between experience-near and experience-distant

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