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Title: The social and spatial experiences of dwarfs within public spaces
Author: Pritchard, Erin
ISNI:       0000 0004 5361 0603
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2014
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Dwarfism is a medical condition which results in a person being no taller than 4ft 10” (Adelson, 2005a). Academic research and literature relating to the lives of dwarfs remains limited and thus this thesis aims to create a broader understanding of the social and spatial experiences of dwarfs whilst attempting to respond to some of the misconceptions about dwarfism, including its lack of recognition as a disability. This study is based within Social Geography, and the sub-fields geographies of disability and geographies of body size. Using qualitative methods, in the form of semistructured interviews, and the incorporation of visual methods, this thesis aims to bring to light the views and experiences of 22 dwarfs living in the UK. Disability can be understood as a product of society as opposed to a person’s bodily difference. Using the social relational model of disability this study aims to show how public spaces can be disabling for dwarfs, through the creation of both socio-spatial barriers and social restraints which can affect how they negotiate spaces. The study demonstrates how socio-spatial barriers are created by inaccessible spaces and facilities, which are designed and implemented for people of average stature, and the different ways participants deal with them, including through resistance and avoidance. Building upon socio-spatial barriers, in this study I also question the suitability of disabled spaces and facilities, including whether or not they are accessible and if participants are challenged when using them. The study also considers how cultural representations of dwarfs affect how they are perceived and treated by other members of the public. I argue that cultural representations of dwarfs encourage social restraints which in turn affect a dwarf’s use of public spaces. Overall this study contributes to both geographies of disability and geographies of body size, through showing how a body difference, which is predominately about height, is disabled by a ‘one size fits all’ built environment and social attitudes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available