chapter  7
13 Pages

Hiding, isolation and solace

Rural disabled women and neoliberal welfare reform
ByHannah Morgan

This chapter explores the contradictory space of the rural for disabled women enduring the harsh realities of neoliberal welfare reform by drawing on interviews undertaken in spring 2012 with disabled women living in rural towns and villages in northern England. As for many of the women, Jenny's rural home also offered a hiding place from the 'neoliberal acts of shaming' inflicted on disabled people during their engagement with welfare benefit reassessment processes. In the companionship of the arts group Jenny found solace in their shared experience of living with chronic illness in a disabling society. The cost of disability, particularly in relation to welfare spending, has been cast as unaffordable and its reduction a necessary element of the UK government's programme of austerity. The nature of the rural was contradictory, at times exasperating, in its inaccessibility and potential for isolation, but also the source of welcome seclusion as well as community.