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Enacting disability: how can STS inform disability studies
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Technology and Social Change. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. (Teknik Värderingar och Politiska Processer)
2011 (English)In: Disability & Society, ISSN 0968-7599, E-ISSN 1360-0508, Vol. 26, no 7, 825-838 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper aims to discuss how science and technology studies (STS) can inform disability studies and challenge dominant approaches, such as the medical and the social models, in the ordering and representation of disability. Disability studies and STS have followed somewhat parallel paths in the history of ideas. From a positivist approach to their research objects to a strong social constructivism, both disciplines have moved to post-modern conceptualisations of science, technology and disability. In the same manner and challenging the extremes of modernism (either ordering disability as a bodily impairment or locating disability solely in society), this paper brings the conceptual vocabulary of actor-network theory (ANT) to the field of disability studies. ANT enables the ordering of disability as a simultaneous biological, material and semiotic phenomenon. Exchanges of performative agency between these elements determine the disability experience. The focus of the analysis shifts from merely defining disability as an impairment, handicap, or social construction (epistemology) to how disability is experienced and enacted in everyday practices, in policy-making, in socio-technical arenas, in the body, and in the built environment (ontology). This adoption of an ontological approach to disability allows the analysis to not only discuss how disability is done, but also to follow how disability groups and carriers of disability expertise and experience intervene in policy-making by developing ‘research in the wild’ and confronting scientific experts in different fora (ontological politics).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge: Taylor and Francis Group , 2011. Vol. 26, no 7, 825-838 p.
Keyword [en]
actor-network theory, agency, postmodernism, experience of disability, social constructivism, medical model, social model, research in the wild, hybrid forums
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified Social Work Sociology
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-64194DOI: 10.1080/09687599.2011.618737ISI: 000299631400003OAI: diva2:387311
Available from: 2011-01-13 Created: 2011-01-13 Last updated: 2012-03-30

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Galis, Vasilis
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