Disability studies: strengths and dilemmas

Disability studies, and more generally the disability movement, have reached a state of authoritative maturity over the past two decades. Indeed, a comprehensive conceptual framework has been developed which defines and situates disability conceptually, while at the same time forging links with political and policy networks and with a range of interest and pressure groups that advocate the emancipation of disabled people. Moreover, there are clear signs of official recognition as evidenced, for example, by the EU adoption of agenda 2020 for disabled persons, and by the research opportunities opened up by the latest call within the EU research programme, (the 7thframework), or by the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. However, these strong points should not conceal the fact that there are also a number of dilemmas that disability studies should confront, such as, for example, a number of problematic elements in the conceptual framework or the contradictory interests to be found in the political and ideological coalitions that have been formed. The aim of this paper is to underline the achievements and to examine the dilemmas without, however, limiting the discussion to a critical note. On the contrary, this discussion will demonstrate how these dilemmas might be overcome.

Ingrid Baart en Robert Maier
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Symposiumbijdrage voor het symposium 'Disability Studies: Strengths and Dilemmas' op 19 april 2012, VU Amsterdam.