chapter  8
13 Pages

Researching disablement

ByNick Watson

Disability studies in theUnited Kingdom (UK), North America and elsewhere was founded not in wonder or out of curiosity but in anger by disabled people who were dissatisfied with the way that society treated them and the limited opportunities that they were afforded. Importantly, this anger was directed not just at society and its exclusionary practices but also at the way that the social sciences in general and medical sociology in particular constructed disability and disabled people, the way that the social sciences researched disability and the way that they presented the problems faced by disabled people. The emergence of disability studies as a discipline in its own right and the research activities and practices associated with the topic, in particular emancipatory research (Oliver 1992), suggest that this is an area where a sound research base has been developing hand in handwith the subject. However, as this chapter will argue, if the research task of disability studies is to emerge as more than evaluation of policy and practice for disabled people and as more than sociology, social policy, politics or economics with a disability theme or angle, and make a contribution to the emancipation of disabled people, then considerable practical and theoretical problems arise. In, for example, work on direct payments or employment for disabled people it is sometimes difficult to identify meaningful research (as against evaluation) questions (Kelly 1989).