Integration, Inclusion or Transformation (Part 2)

What do disabled people really want?

This post represents the thoughts of our Engagement Officer, Bob Williams-Findlay. It is posted here to stimulate thought and debate amongst members of our community, so we would welcome your contributions. It is a personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the official position of Act for Inclusion.

In the first blog in the series, I explained the purpose behind doing them.  The blog sought to outline key concepts discussed at a members’ meeting of the campaign organisation Act 4 Inclusion (A4I) and consider some of the complexities involved in employing them.

Within this blog I wish to explore how disability and integration have been historically viewed within the struggle for disabled people’s emancipation.  From this enquiry, I wish to argue that the notion of ‘inclusivity’ can, if applied in a radical manner, mount a challenge to disablism that has been lost in the discourses around ‘integration’; however, it will also be asserted that this can be a means to an end, not an end in itself. (1) Woven into the discussion will be the promotion of the view that it is impossible to deliver what disabled people really want without constructing a truly transformative agenda.

It will be argued that by exploring the ideas of Vic Finkelstein and Derbyshire Centre for Integrated Living, alongside the A4I Vision, it will be possible to start to construct a transformative agenda. (2) The direction of travel being followed will be uncomfortable because it require us to interrogate deeply held ‘truths’ from within the disabled people’s movement.

Historical context: disability and integration within the struggle for emancipation

Most politically conscious disabled people have an understanding of the basic arguments that stem from the social interpretation of disability: that is, the exclusion from and marginalisation within mainstream social activity, is caused by the structures and organisation of society. Our experience of oppression and discrimination are the outcome of how we are seen and treated. It should go without saying that we want to change this situation, however, the tricky question is: how do we undertake this task?

In the presentation delivered to the members’ meeting, it was suggested that to be able to achieve A4I’s vision there was a need to develop an eco-social approach towards a new system of support which has its foundations rooted in the Social Model of disability and the disabled people’s independent living movement, but also with the added responsibility to understand and incorporate natural ecosystems into our way forward for social support.

With hindsight, I recognise that talking about the ideas rooted in the independent living movement could be misleading because, as I will explain in a while, there are political and ideological differences among disabled people in terms of what it is we are seeking to achieve. These differences are evident in the approaches taken by disabled people regarding independent living. In the early days of the disabled people’s movement the discussions around integration took place with a greater emphasis on the political priority of escaping segregated living. I have decided to drill down further into how social integration was seen by specific tendencies within the movement and provide some historical context. By doing this, I believe I can show commonality and differences with the thinking going on within A4I. It should be noted that the political and ideological differences that exist among disabled people extend into the ranks of disabled activists who adopt the radical social approach and I will be highlighting some of these differences in due course.

From its beginning, the modern disabled people’s movement had a dual purpose. UPIAS wrote for example:

“The Union aims to have all segregated facilities for physically impaired people replaced by arrangements for us to participate fully in society. These arrangements must include the necessary financial, medical, technical, educational and other help required from the State to enable us to gain the maximum possible independence in daily living activities, to achieve mobility, to undertake productive work, and to live where and how we choose with full control over our lives.” (3)

They sought to end the unnecessary incarceration of older and disabled people, whilst seeking support to undertake independent living. Was this realistic? As I see it, this was a challenge to the state and society. The word ‘independence’ refers to the right to control one’s life and not be subjected to segregated, dependency-making “care”. I see the social interpretation of disability as a platform for developing what I call ‘transitional demands’.

In Marxist theory, a transitional demand either is a partial realisation of a maximum demand after revolution or an agitational demand made by a socialist organisation with the aim of linking the current situation to progress towards their goal of a socialist society. I believe the latter meaning can also be applied to how the early disabled activists articulated what they wanted.

UPIAS forward this argument:

“The cruelty, petty humiliation, and physical and mental deprivation

suffered in residential institutions, where isolation and segregation have been carried to extremes, lays bare the essentially oppressive relations of this society with its physically impaired members. As in most similar places, such as special schools, there are some staff and volunteers doing their best to help the residents. But their efforts are systematically overwhelmed by the basic function of segregated institutions, which is to look after batches of disabled people – and in the process convince them that they cannot realistically expect to participate fully in society and earn a good living.

This function was generally appropriate when special residential institutions first came into being, since in the competitive conditions of the time many physically impaired people could not even survive without their help. But now it has become increasingly possible for severely impaired people not just to survive, but also to work and become fully integrated, the need for segregated institutions no longer exists in the way it did. They have become seriously out of step with the changed social and technological conditions of Britain today.” (4)

I believe there’s a flaw in this argument and it has plagued disability politics ever since. Marta Russell in this long quotation both supports UPIAS’ assertion, but at the same time signposts to the flawed aspect of their argument.

She wrote:

“Our institutions (particularly medical and social welfare institutions) have historically held disablement to be an individual problem, not the result of economic or social forces. They have equated disability with physiological, anatomical, or mental “defects” and hegemonically held these conditions responsible for the disabled person’s lack of full participation in the economic life of our society. This approach presumed a biological inferiority of disabled persons. Pathologizing characteristics such as blindness, deafness, and physical and mental impairments that have naturally appeared in the human race throughout history became a means of social control that has relegated disabled persons to isolation and exclusion from society. By placing the focus on curing the so-called abnormality and segregating the incurables into the administrative category of disabled, medicine bolstered the capitalist business interest to shove less exploitable workers with impairments out of the workforce.” (5)

The medicalisation of the body fed into the dominant ideologies that were to shape how disabled people were seen, but it also legitimated their treatment. Individualism and the contours around ‘normality’ were also part of this process of shaping the exclusion of disabled people.

Russell went onto say:

“This exclusion was rationalized by Social Darwinists, who used biology to argue that heredity (race and disability status) prevailed over the class and economic issues raised by Marx and others. Just as the inferior weren’t meant to survive in nature, they weren’t meant to survive in a competitive society. For 19th century tycoons, Social Darwinism proved a marvellous rationale for leaving the surplus population to die in poverty. Capitalism set up production dynamics that devalued less exploitable or non-exploitable bodies, and Social Darwinism theorized their disposability. If it was natural that disabled persons were not to survive, then the capitalist class was off the hook to design a more equitable economic system – one that would accommodate the body that did not conform to the standard worker body driven to labor for owning-class profit.” (6)

Here is the rub then, ‘the capitalist class was off the hook to design a more equitable economic system – one that would accommodate the body that did not conform to the standard worker body driven to labor for owning-class profit’. The point I am trying to make here is that the social relations disabled people have within capitalist societies are determined by various factors and there is a complexity that has been underplayed within disability politics and progressive movements. What is rarely openly discussed is the relationship between ‘the essentially oppressive relations of this society with primarily its physically impaired members’ in relation to the class struggle. I believe it is implicit within the social interpretation of disability, however, I also believe what should be understood as the dialectics of disability have been underplayed.

In the final blog of this series, I will discuss in more detail what I believe constitutes the dialectics of disability and why they should be situated within the context of employing dialectical materialism. Within Marxist theory it is argued that political and historical events result from the conflict of social forces and are interpretable as a series of contradictions and their solutions. In the blog, I will touch upon why I believe both dialectical and historical materialism offer us a method to develop a theory of disability as oppression and act as a contribution within disabled people’s emancipation struggle. (7)

The first phase of disability politics was developed primarily by physically impaired people who had been institutionalised. They recognised other groups were subjected to oppression which had roots in the same sets of social relations they had, but they did not explore the implications. (8)  Vic Finkelstein and Mike Oliver were always clear:

“….a social model of disability should assist us in gaining insight into the disabling nature of the market system.” (9)

This is not, in my opinion, how today’s disability politics employ a social model of disability. Before exploring this view of mine, let us go back once more to the roots of our two movements and consider similarities and differences.

How did we reach where we are today?

As previously stated, UPIAS was made up of people considered to be ‘physically impaired’, that is, having bodies that displayed ‘functional loss’. The usual definition of ‘functional loss’ is that it is the inability to perform standard working movements of the body with the expected excursion, strength, speed, coordination and/or endurance. What is contested however is the social construction of ‘impairment’ which is a problematical area of debate I wish to sidestep to a degree here, however, it cannot be ignored altogether. (10) UPIAS never denied the fact impairment reality existed or could be denied as a determining factor in the encountering of disablement, but what they challenged was the view that impairment reality was the direct cause of disabled people’s social exclusion and marginalisation. Thus:

“Our own position on disability is quite clear; and is fully in line with the agreed principles. In our view, it is society which disables physically impaired people. Disability is something imposed on top of our impairments, by the way we are unnecessarily isolated and excluded from full participation in society. Disabled people are therefore an oppressed group in society. It follows from this analysis that having low incomes, for example, is only one aspect of our oppression. It is a

consequence of our isolation and segregation, in every area of life, such as education, work, mobility, housing, etc. Poverty is one symptom of our oppression, but it is not the cause. For us as disabled people it is absolutely vital that we get this question of the cause of disability quite straight, because, on the answer depends the crucial matter of where we direct our main energies in the struggle for change. We shall clearly get nowhere if our efforts are chiefly directed not at the cause of our

oppression, but instead at one of the symptoms.” (11)

The roots of the social interpretation of disability come via responding to how society both ‘sees and treats’ people with significant physical impairments. It is the appraisal of bodies considered to be ‘impaired’ and the subsequent treatment of them which lies at the heart of the oppression disabled people encounter. Whilst what constitutes ‘impairment’ is an issue to be discussed, it is not central to the core argument forwarded by UPIAS because no matter what ‘definition’ is “accepted”, the baseline is how a given society socially constructs its meaning and the consequences that flow from this. The framing of impairment in terms of functional incapacity leads to certain groups being subjected to ‘unequal and differential treatment’. Unless an ‘impairment’ is deemed present, the individual would not find themselves assessed as to whether they should be considered ‘disabled’ or not.

Negative interactions between disabled people and a raft of environments, produce disabling situations; however, these interactions have two sides to them. The dialectic nature of disability involves addressing the relations that are seen to exist between impaired bodies and social environments. Hence Paul Abberley argued:  

“It is crucial that a theory of disability as oppression comes to grips with this `real’ inferiority, since it forms a bedrock upon which justificatory oppressive theories are based and, psychologically, an immense impediment to the development of political consciousness amongst disabled people. Such a development is systematically blocked through the naturalisation of impairment.” (12)

The question of the assumed naturalisation of impairment has been inadequately addressed by those who developed the social interpretation of disability because in the beginning it was thought that all that was required was to see ‘impairment’ as a given, and from this stance, break the causal link between impairment and disability. (13) The lack of explanation of the dialectical nature of the relations between impairment and disability have had negative consequences for disabled people’s emancipation struggle. It for this reason, I want to particularly focus upon the second point Paul makes about our ‘disadvantages are dialectically related to an ideology or group of ideologies which justify and perpetuate the situation.’ What does this mean?

The development of dominant ideologies and practices in relation to disabled people did not come from out of thin air. At the heart of disabled people’s emancipation struggle, in my view, is the conflict between the needs of capital versus the needs of disabled people. This conflict however throws up a series of contradictions not least of which is the expressed desire found within disability politics to be part of existing social relations; that is, to participate in mainstream social activities, when there is little motivation to accommodate those viewed as lacking social worth due to having ‘inferior bodies’ (sic).

Taken at face value, I remain unconvinced that true emancipation in the form of either ‘inclusion’ or ‘integration’ is fully achievable under Capitalism. I do however believe it is possible to seek betterment by fighting for inclusive practices; whereas social integration as it is currently spoken as being ‘full participation’, on the other hand, I view as neither feasible nor desirable within existing social relations. UPIAS placed an emphasis upon obtaining access to employment because it granted a certain degree of financial autonomy and increased social worth; whilst undoubtedly true, what is glossed over is the nature of the world of work, its exploitative and dehumanising features. The ability of disabled people to obtain access to employment turns on the type of interaction that is possible between impaired individuals and working environments. Factors, for example, such as accommodation (inclusive practice) and the needs of market forces will always be struggled over within capitalism.

The idea of betterment therefore acknowledges that we can take steps to improve given situations, for example, fighting for an end of enforced segregation or institutionalisation; but nonetheless within a wider strategy of seeking to transform the entire system.

Disability politics have been bedevilled by endless debates relating to concepts and language. Language is complex as ‘words’ often have different meanings and usage. Gramsci, as an example, wrote about how hegemonic power of ruling groups can absorb radical concepts by emptying them of their original meaning and inserting ideas that embrace the status quo. We saw New Labour do this with ‘Personalisation’ which corrupted Independent Living and person-centred planning. (14)

What this led to is a situation where today there are disabled people who want to “buy” their way into society by being “employers” of ‘personal assistants’. Rather than transform society and promote collective ways of developing community based services using coproduction and inclusive practice, we have seen disabled people collude with their oppressors by trading in their politics and principles for a piece of action within the capitalist marketplace. I have spoken about this elsewhere. (15) I know this sounds harsh, and I believe this situation has emerged for a number of reasons, but the adoption of this type of individualised solution has had a detrimental impact upon disabled people’s ability to struggle for an inclusive society. A major factor is the nature of disabled people’s oppression and the hegemonic hold of dominant ideology.

As a former planning officer within Social Services, I understand the attraction of ‘direct payments’ as the traditional services were/are not fit-for-purpose. But this ‘attraction’ masks the oppressive nature of NHS and Social Care direct payment systems and the exploitative ways disabled people and PAs are governed by market forces. I hate seeing the painful way individuals are being set up to fail.

I recall what Vic wrote:

“The promoters of ‘independent living’ in a market economy can’t complain that they get what they wanted (to the delight of privateers in the new Blatcherite Labour Party). When disability groups became ‘independent’ they needed to get on with the job and compete against other ‘independent living’ service providers. If the competition happens to be well-established charities – well so be it – let the most competitive win! That’s what ‘independence’ means in the capitalist system. It’s all

about ‘efficient’ service provision (meaning who has the cheapest product to sell). The market has no need for non-productive groups such as ‘political’ organisations of disabled people.” (16)

What he is referring to is what I regard to be the second phase of disability politics. It was where ‘Janus politics’ were developed and led to the abandonment of the radical social interpretation of disability in favour of a more accommodational approach. As just stated, there are many root causes for this shift, but I want to highlight just a few of them that are relevant to this discussion. The shift from the first to second phase coincides with the development of a new social movement.

Batliwala (2010) stated in relation to how social movements shape collective power:

“Processes that build the collective power of an organised constituency of excluded, marginalised, oppressed or invisible people, around a change agenda that enables them to access the full body of human rights, challenge the distribution of wealth and control of resources, challenge dominant ideologies, and transform social power relations in their favour.” (17)

What is significant here is the emphasis that Batliwala puts on the processes involved in forging ‘collective power’ to enable social movements to mount challenges around change agendas. Oliver and Barnes suggest the British movement did engage in challenges of this nature, however, towards the end of a section on social movements in their book, they write:

“Overall, the disabled people’s movement has utilized both radical and conventional politics. The balance between the two has varied historically; currently those committed to wide-ranging social change have lost ground to those supporting political involvement in the established institutions and trying to break down disabling barriers from within the system.”

They however go on to say, “Of course, there is no ‘royal road’ to ‘independent living’ or ‘empowerment’, and no user’s manual, overarching set of political tactics or universally applicable form of self-organisation; nor can there be.” (18)  

Across the globe it is true that the emancipation struggle of disabled people will take a variety of forms due to differing economic and social conditions, and therefore disability politics cannot be totally ‘universal’ in their nature as they must relate to material conditions and situations; however, there is an additional point. The considerable variations in political analysis and strategies among disabled people nonetheless have to be viewed in context because differing political and ideological positions have significant implications for the development of disabled people’s emancipation struggle.

It is necessary to consider the possible implications of there being considerable variations in political analysis and strategies among disabled people as it ties into how we understand ‘what disabled people want’. In simple terms, the 1970s saw disability politics primarily focus on the location of physically impaired people. It was a movement to push against institutionalisation and segregation; it was argued, as we saw, that disabled people could be supported to live in the community, secure employment and contribute to mainstream social activities. It was a call for ‘integration’ into society.

Two important observations need to be made:

  • Disabled people want to be integrated/included in the mainstream of a society that does not respond to their needs and interests
  • Disabled people want their impairment reality taken into account, but the radical social interpretation of disability rejects the causal link between impairment and encountered social disadvantage (disability)

Colin Barnes in 2004 makes a very telling point when he wrote:

“Due largely to the intensifying politicisation of disability by disabled people and their organisations during the 1980s and 90s, both in the UK and elsewhere, the phrase ‘independent Living’ has been increasingly evident in policy documents produced by health and social service professionals in the context of ‘community care’ services for disabled people. Usually focusing on professionally led assessments of functional ability and inability, these initiatives bear little resemblance to the principles and practices of the international disabled people’s movement.” (19)

The corruption of the concepts from the disabled people’s movement is something I have written about in a variety of spaces. I have noted a number of paradoxical situations emerging from the late 1980s onwards. Barnes mentions the intensifying politicisation of disability, which is undoubtedly true, however, it was not necessary undertaken in a comprehensive manner due to both the political terrain at the time and the nature of the disabled people’s movement as a social movement. Finkelstein made this observation:

“The result is that Mike and Colin do not offer a single interpretation of what happened in the 1990s structures of society, ‘outside’ there, which facilitated the rising dominance of the ‘rights based approach’ in the disability movement, ‘inside’ here. Far from making a credible criticism of the disability movement’s misleading over-emphasis on ‘civil rights’ they adopt the same ‘inside out’ approach in their analysis!” (20)

I take my share of criticism for supporting an over-emphasis on ‘civil rights’ however I believe I did raise a critical voice within the movement. I did, and I continue to argue, that disabled people need to adopt a methodology which explores ‘out there’ as a crucial part of furthering the struggle. In coining the phrase, ‘Janus politics’, I was describing the tendency to look back in order to ‘borrow’ the language and concepts from the radical interpretation of disability, but in taking them forward their original meanings were ditched for ones which served the status quo.

I wrote:

“It is necessary to question the extent to which direct payments, independent living and now personalisation have the dynamic meaning of disability as understood by Finkelstein and UPIAS. What we have seen is a set of accommodating ‘interpretations’ employed by more liberal and reformist disabled activists and sections of the disabled community, which in turn has allowed service providers and the state to exploit this situation.”  (21)

From the mid-1980s we can see a proliferation of self-organisations of disabled people which were not impairment specific. The British Council of Organisations of Disabled People grew in a decade from fifteen to a hundred and twenty organisations before its decline. This was the height of the disability/disabled people’s movement. (22) The expansion of self-organisation was supplemented by the popularisation of the social model of disability primarily through Disability Equality Training. Elsewhere I have offered a critique of the growth of this new social movement and its implications. (23)

There were a number of social, ideological and political shifts over this period. The focus shifted from deinstitutionalisation and being an emancipation struggle to one that centred upon independent living and securing civil and human rights. Finkelstein expressed his criticism when he wrote:

“In the 1990s Mike Oliver’s view, on the other hand, was and

has remained, that the ‘social model of disability’ and ‘civil

rights’, alongside with ‘independent living’ are harmonious

components in our struggle for emancipation.

‘In the last 30 years we have begun to shake off the dead hand

of charity … In so doing we have built a political and social

movement that does offer us the very real possibility of

“changing our futures” …’ (Campbell and Oliver 1996). Mike

maintains that these advances were founded on three big

ideas: “the social model of disability, independent living and

civil rights”.

I don’t agree. I don’t see how ‘components’ of a model can be

given equal value to the model itself!” (24)

As I stated in the previous blog, I agree with this point of view because as he went onto explain, the de-coupling of ‘components’ or aspects of the radical analysis, led to weakening the argument for radical social change. I have argued that the demise of the disabled people’s movement turned upon this issue:

“In fact the radical social model of disability gave us the words to describe the way society is constructed so that we become disabled. It was an outside-in approach to our situation; words to describe our experiences of inequality is an inside-out approach (i.e. a case file approach). The former is a materialist approach and the latter an idealist approach. The idealist approach is perfectly at home with the ‘rights’ approach that is increasingly dominating the British disability movement and characterises the USA movement.” (25)

I believe the article by Francis Hasler in 2003, Philosophy of Independent Living, demonstrates the muddled thinking that resulted from the gradual shift in thinking and practice from the 1990s onwards. I quote at length:

“European Network on Independent Living, focus on personal assistance as a key component of independent living. This is because lack of personal assistance is so closely linked to being forced to live in institutional care. ENIL was set up in 1989 at a conference in Strasbourg. This conference resolutions says:

‘This conference has focused on Personal Assistant Services as an essential factor of Independent Living, which itself encompasses the whole area of human activities, e.g. housing, transport, access, education, employment, economic security and political influence.

We, disabled people, recognising our unique expertise, derived from our experience, must take the initiative in the planning of policies that directly affect us.

To this end we condemn segregation and institutionalisation, which are direct violations of our human rights, and consider that governments must pass legislation that protects the human rights of disabled people, including equalisation of opportunities.

We firmly uphold our basic human right to full and equal participation in society as enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (extended to include disabled people in 1985) and consider that a key prerequisite to this civil right is through Independent Living and the provision of support services such as personal assistance services for those who need them.’

This resolution locates independent living firmly within the framework of human rights. This is not about doing good to disabled people, or providing them with welfare, it is about ensuring that disabled people can exercise their human and civil rights, equally with non-disabled people. The Strasbourg resolution expresses independent living philosophy in a form that can be understood by governments. Its stress on human rights also expresses another facet of independent living: all human life is of value. It does not matter what sort of impairment you have. No-one is so impaired that their life does not count. In expressing this aspect of our philosophy in concrete form independent living movement has had to battle the way in which social welfare services divide and classify disabled people. In the UK, for example, people with intellectual impairments are classified as having ‘mild or moderate or severe’ learning difficulties. Assumptions are made about what a person with severe difficulties can or cannot do, and they are rarely offered the opportunity for independent living.” (26)

To move forward, I believe disabled people need to clarify exactly what it is that they want. Attempting to unpack Francis’ article might prove a useful exercise. This said, we need to place such an exercise within the context of how the idealist approach derailed the Movement as a whole.

In 2004, Andy Rickell, Director of the British Council of Disabled People, wrote:

“Basic rights are specifically emphasised in disabled people’s terms including those of life, freedom of movement (including an end to institutionalised forms of provision for disabled people), social and political participation including self-organisation, independent living, sexuality, choice and control over our own lives, bringing up our own children, privacy and freedom from media intrusion, to express an opinion and to be heard, independent advocacy (including legal representation), and freedom from disablist humour and behaviour.” (27)

There is nothing here to disagree with, however, it was presented as a hotchpotch of ‘basic demands’ which are in fact a mixture of civil and human rights. The collapsing of the two types of ‘rights’ together does have serious implications in general, and specifically for our understanding of disablement and the development of disabled people’s emancipation struggle. Human Rights are some basic rights that should be given to every human being in the country, whereas main aim of civil rights is to give personal rights to an individual. Civil rights protect individual citizens from discrimination and grant certain freedoms like free speech, due process, equal protection, the right against self-incrimination, and so forth.

This is why the Disabled People’s Movement got in a muddle in the late 1980s and early 1990s because it demanded anti-discrimination legislation, but thought it could address disablement, seen simply as ‘institutional discrimination’, at the same time. Marie Barile outlines the impact of disablement when she wrote:

“Inequity occurs when the social structures and spaces, social norms, culture and the tools of social interaction are constructed without taking differences, and therefore, equity, into account. Inequity, or the application of uniform standards, results is a singleton society built on the premise that everyone is the same and that those who are not must either learn to live within the structure established for the majority or perish.” (28)

This is why issues around understanding the nature of disablement, the impact of disablism, have a direct bearing upon how integration and inclusion are understood. As I have said before elsewhere, Finkelstein hit the nail on the head when he said:

“The ideological problem facing the ….movement….from the 1990s onwards was whether the social model ….was still relevant in guiding our struggle or whether social changes had advanced so far that the original model no longer reflected the social context in which it had been created? Is the ‘rights’, or ‘potpourri’, model of disability now more in tune with the market economy expanding into the health and social services sector of society? Was the social model….really understood?” (29)

The reason I have spent so much time and space on ‘how did we reach where we are today?’, is that I believe that it is impossible to move forward without having a firm grasp of where we have been. The work of A4I, ROFA and other bodies is hampered by the fact that few disabled people, especially the activists, have a clear radical vision for the future.

What we see is a fragmentation of disability politics and an array of interpretations linked to concepts. The counter-hegemonic power of the social interpretation or Social Model has been dissipated for the reasons outlined above. The demand for “rights” therefore masks the myriad of ‘meanings’ that lie behind this call. How then do we move forward, seek clarity, and determine what disabled people really want?

It might not be possible to put Humpty Dumpty back together again or sensible to attempt square the circle, however I believe the journey A4I and others want to make is worth setting out on. As Finkelstein implied, we are charged with the task of understanding how all the components of a social approach towards disability fit together to inform disabled people’s emancipation struggle. The ideological questions surrounding the debates on developing ‘integrated’, ‘independent’ or even ‘interdependent’ living, influence how we define the various concepts involved. By exploring disabled people’s social situation we may be in a better position to advance our journey.

It is these ideological questions that I will focus upon in the third blog.


  1. Northway, R. (2002) ‘Integration and Inclusion: Illusion or Progress in Services for Disabled People?’ Social Policy & Administration, Volume 31, Issue 2 pages 157-172

2. Finkelstein, V. (1999) Professions Allied to the Community (PACs) I




4. UPIAS (1974) page 3

5. Russell, M. (2019) Disablement, oppression, and political economy

     Originally published: Socialist Project (August 7, 2019 ) 

         Disablement, oppression, and political economy | MR Online

6. Russell, M. (2019)

7. Ridenour, J. & Ruth, R. (2014) Dialectical Materialism, Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology, Springer New York

8. UPIAS (1974) page 7


10. It is often argued that the Social Model ignores impairment,   

         however, this is a misinterpretation of what the model was  

         designed for. The personal restrictions i.e. impairment reality is

         not, as Oliver says, it’s focal point. The imposition of disablement

         impacts upon how far, and in what ways, differing groups of

         disabled people can participate within society. Addressing social

         support is both a policy and practical issue.

11. UPIAS, page 4.

12. Abberley, P. (1987) ‘The Concept of Oppression and 

    the Development of a Social Theory of Disability’ 

    Disability, Handicap and Society, Vol. 2, no.1, 160 – 178; page165

13. See Thomas, C. Rescuing a social relational understanding of

    disability, Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research

    Volume 6, 2004 – Issue 1

14. Williams-Findlay, B. (2015)  Personalisation and self-

    determination: the same difference? Critical and Radical Social  

    Work, Policy Press pages 67 – 87

15. Williams-Findlay, B. (2019)The Disabled People’s Movement in the

    Age of Austerity: Rights, Resistance and Reclamation, Resist the

    Punitive State, Grassroots Struggles Across Welfare, Housing,

    Education and Prisons, Edited by Emily Luise Hart, Joe Greener

    and Rich Moth, Pluto Press

16. Finkelstein, V. (2007) The ‘Social Model of Disability’ and the            Disability Movement, page 12

17. Batliwala, S. (2010) ‘All About Movements’, presentation at the   CREA South Asia, Movement Building and Human Rights Institute, Kathmandu, Nepal

18. Oliver, M. and Barnes, C. (2012), The New Politics of Disablement,         London: Palgrave Macmillan, page 174/5

19. Barnes, C. (2003) Independent Living, Politics and Implications

20. Finkelstein, (2007), page 7

21. Williams-Findlay, B. (2015) page 83

22. Figures from a speech made at the National Disabled People’s Summit held on Saturday (4th November 2017) organised by the National Education Union, Reclaiming our Futures Alliance (ROFA) and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).

23. Williams-Findlay, B. (2021) Are there four cornerstones of disability politics? Part One  More Than A Left Foot – Thoughts of a disabled left-wing activist (

24. Finkelstein, (2007) page 6

25. Finkelstein, (2001) page 4

26. Hasler, F. (2003) Philosophy of Independent Living,needs%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%C2%9D%20of%20independent%20living%20identified%20by%20Derbyshire%20CIL.



28. Barile, M.  (2003) ‘Globalization and ICF Eugenics: Historical coincidence or connection? The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same’, Disability Studies Quarterly, Spring, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 208-223,

29. Finkelstein, (2007) page 14