Ballast lives : an excursus on socio-political accounts of disablement in the age of globalization
According to contemporary fashion, humankind has entered a new era marked by epochal change, be it a globalized, postmodern, post-industrialist, late modern, high modern, meta-modern, hyper-modern, super-modern, post-Fordist or post-emotional society. In contrast to such claims for epochal disjunction, this thesis identifies fundamental continuities in attitudes and policies toward disablement. Disabled Britons, since at least the 1970's, have sought to develop alternative explanations of disablement, exemplified by Mike Oliver's 'Social Model of Disability'. Despite the influence of a socio-political account amongst the activist disability movement, dominant ideology ensures that such pioneering ideas are subject to unrelenting disparagement and disinformation. Despite such ridicule, this thesis shows that claims of a coherent and liberative 'disability policy' in the UK remain grandiloquent, if not entirely inaccurate. Building on the work of Deborah Stone and Mike Oliver, in particular, I will show that, despite modest progress, British disability policy remains indelibly marked by seventeenthcentury assumptions and prejudice. This thesis contributes to the development of disability theory by providing a critical socio-economic analysis of contemporary policy and radical theorising, a task that has yet to be substantially addressed in the UK. Furthermore, by examining legal, historical, economic, political and social sources, I contend that the absence of contemporary disability policy will be shown to provide explicit benefits to the elite, to the detriment of efforts to promote and protect the emancipation of disabled Britons. The over-arching premise is that socio-political accounts of disablement continue to provide unparalleled analytical and theoretical insights into a process of disablement, not least as a particular brand of capitalism is in the ascendancy: the struggle for global hegemony aided by the advancement of a single market modelled on U.S. lines.