chapter  12
19 Pages

Reconstructing disability, childhood and social policy in the UK

ByJohn Davis, Nick Watson, Mairian Corker, Tom Shakespeare

This chapter critically assesses the recent change in the way social policy characterises disabled children and young people. It briefly illustrates that social policy has moved from being dominated by medical assumptions that disabled children are inevitably passive, ‘vulnerable’ and in ‘need’. It suggests that this movement has been guided by ‘social model’ and ‘social inclusion’ notions that disabled children have rights, are active citizens and should be fully included in educational and cultural activities. It argues that the social structural discourses that underpinned this change have their failings. Specifically, it argues that ‘social model’ and ‘social inclusion’ perspectives on social policy are flawed because they present disabled children as a homogeneous grouping, ironing out the complexity and difference in their lives. It suggests that in order for an effective policy framework for the social and economic inclusion of disabled children to be developed, social policy must take as its point of departure the accounts of disabled children. By employing ethnographic data to demonstrate the complex and fluid nature of disabled children’s lives, this chapter proposes a multi-layered approach for social policy. Central to this approach are strategies that help develop dialogue, empowerment and interdependency between children, young people, parents, policy-makers, practitioners and peer group.