28 - 31 August 2013
Torino, Italy

RS06 – Disability and Society

Bill Hughes w.hughes@gcal.ac.uk Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland, UK
Nick Watson Nicholas.Watson@glasgow.ac.uk University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Sociologists, alongside disability activists, played a lead role in the paradigmatic transformation, during the 1990’s, of disability from a medical to a social issue. The research agenda that unfolded thereafter, still dominated epistemologically by sociology led to the formation of the discipline of Disability Studies which is growing significantly across the globe but particularly in the academies in the Global North where the terrain is changing rapidly alongside the momentous economic and financial upheavals that have marked the last few years. We will encourage contributors to reflect on this changing terrain.

Crisis, critique and change are concepts that have been central to disability studies as it has struggled to theorize and understand disablement and give intellectual shape to the experience of living with impairment. Crisis is a daily lived experience for many millions of disabled people; for those who strive for survival in the global south and those who bear the brunt of the cuts in the Global North. Critique has been an ever present and vibrant problematic posing the questions of how to make theory meaningful and useful and how to make it count towards the improvement of disabled people’s lives. This is a task both epistemological and political for academics working with theory and trying to understand how it might best be shaped for purposes of disability emancipation. Change plays havoc with critique, sweeps crisis along and brings to the fore the contingent nature of disabled people’s emancipation and participation. How to salvage something from the destructiveness of contemporary change or to channel it in ways that are beneficial to disabled people and their communities is a most pressing question. We welcome papers which reflect on the changing socio-economic and cultural terrain and its impact on: disability theory; understanding the relationship between past and present; social relations between disabled and non-disabled people in everyday life; the experience of disability; care and welfare provision and on the new forms of agency and activism that have been and are developing in response to crisis and our dramatically changing contemporary conditions.


Thank you very much to all participants for making esa torino an outstanding conference.