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Disability & Society


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Disability Studies: A historical materialist view


B. J. GLEESON Version of record first published: 01 Jul 2010.

To cite this article: B. J. GLEESON (1997): Disability Studies: A historical materialist view, Disability & Society, 12:2, 179-202 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09687599727326

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Disability & Society, Vol. 12, N o. 2, 1997, pp. 179 202

Disability Studies: a historical m aterialist view


B. J. GLEESON
U rban Research Program, Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National U niversity, Canberra, ACT. 0200, Australia

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A BST RAC T This paper presents an historical materialist view of recent accounts of disability in W estern societies. This view is presented in tw o main parts: rst, as an in-depth appraisal of the eld of disability studies, and secondly, as an outline for an alternative, historical materialist account of disablement. The critical assessment of disability studies nds that recent accounts of disability are in the main seriously de cient in terms of both epistemology and historiography (though some important exceptions are identi ed). In particular, four speci c areas of theoretical weakness are identi ed: theoretical super ciality, idealism, the xation with norm ality, and an unwillingness to consider history seriously. It is argued that these de ciencies have prevented the eld of disability studies from realising its potential to challenge the structures which oppress impaired people. From this critical epistemologica l perspective, an outline is made of an alternative, materialist account of disability, stressing both theoretical and political agendas.

Introduction T his paper presents a historical m aterialist view of disability studies within W estern social science [1]. This view is presented in two main parts: theoretical critique and theoretical alternative. The rst part of the paper is an in-depth appraisal of the eld of disability studies. An assessment of this length cannot hope to cover the entire corpus of literature on disability. T he intention here is not to survey the uneven terrain of disability studies exhaustively, but rather, to visit this through a series of speci c theoretical appraisals. Consequently, this review consults a cross-section of in uential accounts of disability as the basis for its apprais al. The sam ple of literature is draw n m ostly from North A merican and British sources, although som e A ustralian contributions are included in the assessment. The review focuses upon the literature concerning physical disability. From this critical epistem ological perspective, an outline is then made for an alternative, historical materialist account of disability. This alternative account traces both a new theoretical fram ework for understanding disability and the contours for an emancipatory politic al practice by disabled people and their allies.
0968-7599/97/020179-24 $7.00

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The paper is structured as follows. First an initial speci cation of `disability studies is m ade. Following this, an appraisal of disability studies is organised in four m ain sections: theoretical developm ent, idealism , norm alisatio n, and the history of disability. The paper concludes by outlining an alternative historical m aterialist approach to disability, draw ing upon the recent political economic analyses of A bberley (e.g. 1989, 1991a, b, 1993), Finkelstein (e.g. 1993), Gleeson (e.g. 1993, 19 95) and Olive r (e.g. 1989, 1990 , 1993). D isability Stu dies

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D isability studies is a relatively recent phenom enon, em erging as a `coherent [2] discourse in the 1950s [though studies of disability, especially in anthropology, were known previously, e.g. see the studies by Evans-Pritchard (1937) and Hanks & H anks (1948) ]. The rise of the civil rights movem ent in the United States during the 19 60s did m uch to encourage the grow th of a discernible eld of disability studies. H owever, disability studies remains in the United States m ostly a discourse on policy issues, such as employm ent, physical access, bene t righ ts and de-institutionalisatio n [3]. As the rubric suggests, disability studies is a cross-disciplinary endeavour [4] with the major points of contact lim ited to journals and conferences. The lack of disciplin ary boundaries is a potential advantage, allo wing disability studies the freedom to integrate the rather arbitra ry divisio ns of thought institutionalised in W estern academies (e.g. between Politic al `Science and Economics). However, both this unbounded charac ter and the inchoate development of disability studies m ake it a dif cult theoretical terrain to appraise. This paper critic ally traces som e of the important theoretical contours of disability studies by m apping a cross section of important (i.e. widely cited) contrib utions from a varie ty of social scienti c com m entators. As m entioned earlie r, this `critical mapping of the terrain of disability studies is undertaken from an historical materialist perspective. Four m ajor evaluations of disability studies now follow. T heoretical Developm ent D isability studies is a form of enquiry which has drifted long in atheoretical currents (Barnes, 19 95; Radford, 1994). This is, in part, due to the fact that m any of its contrib utors are either practitioners (m ostly social workers) or advocates. Both groups of observers tend to focus on the im m ediate policy landscape. In recent years, several serious considerations of the epistem ological dim ensions of disability have been m ade [see, for exam ple, Barton (1991) , Davis (1995) and the collection edited by R ioux & Bach (1994) ]. M any of these recent contrib utions to the social theorisation of disability have been by disabled academ ics [e.g. Hahn (1989) , O live r (1990, 1993), Abberley (1991a ,b, 199 3), Zola (1993) and Shakespeare (1994) ]. H owever, the broad eld of disability studies remains dominated by discussions of policy matters, often conducted within discursive circles of disability professionals [see Sm ith & Sm ith (1991) for a recent A ustralian exam ple of this].

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The failure of the social sciences generally to consider physical im pairm ent as an important issue partly explains the atheoretical cast of its discursive subsidiary, disability studies. This m ay be seen as part of the wider problem of the entrenched indifference of social science to issues of hum an em bodim ent [see Frank (1990) and T urner (1984, 1991) on this]. Before proceeding further it m ust be stated that the policy orientation of disability studies represents both a weakness and a strength of the eld. T he latter quality should never be underestim ated. The historical m aterialis t nds m uch that is gratifying in a theoretical discourse so rm ly rooted in the world of everyday social practice. Though often expressed in theoretically unsophisticated term s, the assertions contained in the works of m any disability scholars are frequently m arked by a rst-hand grasp of the social oppression which attends im pairm ent. By nature, disability studies justi ably challe nges the social theorist by demanding explanations that lead to policy prescriptio n. The high ly-politic ised (if often at a som ewhat tim orous policy level) nature of disability studies prom ises great potential for a m ore theoretically-in form ed praxis. A powerful force for this politic isation has been the increasing numbers of disabled people m aking in uential contributions to the eld from critic al theoretical perspectives (e.g. Abberley, 1985, 1987, 1989; H ahn, 1986, 19 87, 1988 , 1989; Oliver, 19 86 & 1990; M orris, 1991, 1993a, b; A ppleby, 1994). A series of em pirically-grounded analyses during the 1970s and 1980s by disability com m entators focused on mainstream social scienti c concerns including gender (e.g. Campling, 1981; Deegan & Brooks, 1985), age (e.g. W alker, 1980 ), race (Thorpe & T oikka, 1980), education (e.g. Anderson, 1979) and class (e.g. T ownsend, 1979). Although prim arily cast within a policy fram ework, these investigatio ns of critical sociocultural aspects of disablem ent laid the em piric al and conceptual groundwork for a sociological approach to disability. T he sociological turn, which gathered strength in the 1980s, represented an im portant departure from a tradition of disability com mentary which had drawn heavily upon varian ts of m ethodological individualism (e.g. psychopathology) (Leonard, 198 4; Olive r, 19 90). Nevertheless, the disability debate still suffers the legacy of theoretical deprivatio n. Put simply, for most of its existence, the eld of disability studies has been notable in social science for its failure to engage m ajor theories of society. Its potential to be radically transformed by, and in turn to transform , the broader currents of social theory has heretofore rem ained largely latent. O ne vainly scrutinises many of the essay collections concerning disability in recent decades (e.g. Laura, 198 0; Ferguson et al., 1992; Ballard , 1994) for exam ples of com mentators seriously engagin g social theory and philosophy; m ost references to epistem ology in these diverse works are either allusive or tokenistic [5]. A pathology of the atheoretical cast of disability studies is the tendency of com m entators to m ire themselves in a de nitional bog. The seemingly endless iterations of de nitional orthodoxies concerning the meaning of term s such as `disability , `im pairm ent and `handicap are a problematic feature of the discourse (O liver, 19 90). The inability of observers to agre e on the basic term s of the debate

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is in fact the discourse s incapacity to com prehend the nature-culture relation, which in turn stems from the absence of strong social theory. W ithout recourse to the established debates on the nature-culture relatio n, disability studies are condem ned to a Sisyphean exercise of m oving from one unsatisfactory de nition to another. It will later be argued that historical m aterialism offers one epistem ological solution to this de nitional conundrum . Theoretical super ciality has encouraged a further linguistic diversion in disability debates. This concerns the regular announcements that currently-favoured collective and individual terms for disabled people have becom e outm oded and in need of im mediate replacem ent by `less dehum anising alternatives. W hilst not denying the political im portance of the process of nam ing social groups, it m ust be stated that this endless tendency to reinvent titles for disabled people is charac teristic of a vacuous humanism which seeks to em phasise a `hum an com m onality over the m aterial reality of oppression. Typical of this is the insistence by many com m entators on term s which prim ordially stress the hum anity of disabled people e.g. `people with disabilities . This paper follows A bberley (19 91a,b ) in rejecting the now popular notion that `people with disabilitie s is a hum anising im provement on the term `disabled people (the same m ay be said for the singular form ). Abberley (1991a ,b) declares this to be a retrograde term inological change which effectively depoliticises the social discrim ination that disabled people are subjected to. He is not prepared to accept the displacement of the adjective `disabled until disabled people are actually perm itted to experience social life in fully hum an ways. The wider consequences of the theoretical unconsciousness of disability studies are manifold and cannot be fully essayed here. However, this discussion cannot neglect to m ention the critic al dynamics of gender and race which rem ain largely beyond the ken of disability studies. Some movem ent towards consideration of these other potential oppressions and the m ultip le subjectivity of disabled people seems to have em erged in recent years [6]. This has doubtless been inspired by the politic al experiences of practitio ners, advocates, and, m ore im portantly, disabled people them selves. T he grow ing aw areness in W estern countries of social m ovem ents based upon coalitio ns of the m argin alised, has no doubt encouraged an increasingly broad view of oppression am ongst disability com m entators (cf. A bberley, 1991a; Y oung, 1990). Hahn (1989) has made som e particularly thoughtful surveys of the com mon politic al ground which m igh t potentially link, if not unite, m inority social m ovem ents. Abberley has also em phasised the link between disability and other form s of social oppression, rem arkin g that: This abnorm ality is something we share with wom en, black, elderly, gay and lesbian people, in fact the m ajority of the population (1991a , p. 15). In addition, a feminist perspective which explo res the `double handicap of gender and disability has begun to em erge both in Australia (e.g. Orr, 1984; Cass et al., 19 88; M eekosha, 1989; Cooper, 199 0; W illiam s and Thorpe, 1992) and overseas (e.g. D eegan & Brooks, 19 85; Lonsdale, 1990). Nonetheless, it m ust be concluded that disability studies still exists in a state of

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theoretical underdevelopm ent. There is much to be done in term s of applyin g the insights of social theory and philosophy to the issue of disability. Barnes (1995) recent caution again st inaccessible term inology (partic ularly of the post-m odern ilk) and theoretical opacity in disability studies is well advised. However, the issue of discursive clarity and accessibility m ust not be confused with the need for theoretical substance in analyses of disability. D isability is a social phenomenon and must therefore be explain ed through recourse to theories of society (cf. O live r, 1990 ).

Idealism

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W here social theory has been consulted in disability studies, the analyses have frequently em phasised the non-m aterial dynam ics (e.g. attitudes, aesthetics) that supposedly charac terise the hum an experience of impairm ent. M uch of the social theoretical work on disability has been sourced in philo sophical idealism , an epistem ology which presum es the human enviro nment to be the product of ideas and attitudes (Gleeson, 1995). A bberley (1991a ), for exam ple, identi es certain form s of individual and social psychological perspectives as evidence of idealist explanations of disablem ent. Hevey also declaim s again st idealist explanations of disability where the m aterial world (for disabled people, the material world of physical inaccessibility) is taken as given and xed and is an artefact of the world of attitudes and ideas (1992, p. 14). Individual psychology approaches are evident in many studies of disability and tend to explain disability as a `personal trage dy which `sufferers m ust adjust to, or cope with (Oliver, 1990). The historical genesis of this approach may be traced to the early 1960s when, for exam ple, W right (19 60, p. 1) was able to observe approvingly that the study of adjustm ent to disability is beginning to be regard ed as a serious area of investigatio n by m ore than a few psychologists (em phasis added). Both O live r (198 6, 1990) and Abberley (1991a ) have exposed the inadequacy of this `personal trage dy mysti cation which is central to the individ ual psychology perspective. Social psychology, on the other hand, has inspired a form idable idealism in disability studies and deserves som e critic al appraisal. For com mentators who subscribe to a social psychology view, disability is viewed as an ideological construct rooted in the negative attitudes of society towards im paire d bodies (A bberley, 1991a; Fine & Asch, 1988). W hilst `social forces are acknowledged as constitutive dynam ics, their material contents are overlooked in favour of psychological or discursive structures (M eyerson, 1988). The m ost notorious exam ple of social psychology is the explanation of disability advanced by the interactionist perspective, whose chief evangelist was Goffm an (e.g. 1964, 1969 ). For Goffman, an individual s `personality is said to arise from social interaction as an iterative process between actors where attitudes are form ed on the basis of the perceived attribu tes (positive and negative) of others (Jary & Jary, 1991 ).

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In this view , disability is understood as a `stigm a a negative social attrib ute or sign which emerges from the ritualistic interaction of actors in society. T hus, interactionists, like Goffm an, were able to posit the reality of a `disabled personality m oulded by an in nity of stigm atising encounters (Abberley, 19 91a, p. 11, em phasis added). Abberley (1991a ) rightly dism isses this view for its idealism, evidenced both by its inability to offer any satisfactory explan ation of belief formation (interactionism m erely describes this), and the lack of appreciation of the m ateriality of social practices (such as `interaction ). The interactionist fallacy of explain ing disability as the product of aesthetic and perceptional dynamics continues to nd favour in disability studies. W arren (1980, p. 80) exem pli es this tendency with his rem ark that handicap should not be `objecti ed , not be m ade a `thing out there in the world , but rather be seen as a m atter of interpretation. Sim ilarly, D eegan & Brooks (1985, p. 5) suggest that the social restrictions of disability are enforced by `a handicapped sym bolic and m ythic world . The politic al im plicatio ns of dem aterialisin g the explanation of disability are clear. The view of disability as an attitudinal structure and/or aesthetic construct avoids the issue of how these ideological realitie s are form ed. Idealist prescriptions are consequently reduced either to the ineffectual realm of `attitude changing policies or the oppressive suggestion that disabled people should conform to aesthetic and behavio ural `norms in order to qualify for social approbation. This last point invites consideratio n of a further tendency within disability studies. At issue is the service principle of `norm alisatio n , m ore latterly known am ongst some of its adherents as `social role valo risatio n (W olfensberger, 1983, 19 95).

N orm alisation T he principle of social role valo risation, which began life with the revealing epithet, `norm alisation , was described by W olfensberger & Thom as (1983, p. 23) as `the use of culturally valued m eans in order to enable, establish and/or m aintain valued social roles for people . As the origin al title suggests, this service philosophy which has been taken up with great vigo ur in m uch of the W estern world since the 1970s [7] has the norm alisatio n of socially-d evalued (or `devalorised ) people as its object [8]. The appeal to extant `culturally valued m eans to im prove the social position of groups such as disabled people effectively forecloses on the possibility of their challenging both the established norm s of society and the em bedded material conditions which generated them. `N orm ality , as the set of `culturally valued social roles is both naturalis ed and rei ed by this principle. Abberley (1991a , p. 15), speaking as a disabled person, adm onishes `normalising philosophies and service practices for failin g to locate `abnorm ality in the society which fails to m eet our needs . These perspectives assume, instead, that abnormality resides with the disabled subject. Abberley s (1991a ) rebuke emphasises

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the materialist view, already considered in this discussion, that hum ans are characterised by varyin g sets of needs which cannot be described through references to `norm s . A s he sees it, disabled people, am ongst other social groups, are oppressed by societies which fail to m eet their basic hum an requirements, m ost notably the desire for inclusion in social relatio ns. Abberley (1991a , p. 21) argues that disabled people do not desire the current social standard of `norm ality , but rather seek a `fuller participation in social life . For m any disabled people (especially historical m aterialists like Abberley), the predom inant bourgeois m ode of social life is neither `normal , nor one to which they aspire [see also A bberley (199 3) on this]. This is to echo Young s (1990) in uential critiq ue of norm ative politic al theories which have effaced the critical fact of hum an social difference by presupposing abstract, hom ogenized notions of human subjectivity.

H istory and Disability The Absence of History in Disability Studies D isability studies are largely an ahistorical eld of enquiry (Scheer & Groce, 1988 ). G iven the criticism s outlined above, this nding m ay not be surprisin g. D isability studies have rem ained nearly silent on the issue of history; a situation encouraged by the failure of m ost of its participants to engage established social theory. On this Abberley (1987, p. 5) offers disability analysts the following well-earned iconoclasm s: the sociology of disability is both theoretically backward and a hindrance rather than a help to disabled people. Furtherm ore: Another aspect of `good sociology generally absent is any signi cant recognition of the historical speci city of the experience of disability (A bberley, 198 7, p. 6). In an earlie r article, A bberley is m ore speci c about the historical unconsciousness of disability studies: A key defect of most accounts of handicap is their blind disregard for the accretions of history. Insofar as such elements do enter into accounts of handicap, they generally consist of a ragbag of exam ples from Leviticus via Richard III to Frankenstein, all serving to indicate the supposed perennial, `natural charac ter of discrim ination again st the handicapped. Such `histories serve paradoxically to produce an understanding of handicap which is an ahistorical one. (Abberley, 1985, p. 9, em phasis added.) A s Abberley is aware, disability studies have not entirely erased history; they have, however, trivialis ed the past to the point where it is little m ore than a rei cation of the present.

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Before review ing the lim ited attem pts to produce histories in disability studies, it is advisable to rst m ention the wider problem which has contrib uted to this failin g. `The Creatures Tim e Forgot [9] T he social sciences in partic ular, history m ust themselves accept responsibility for the indifference to the past in disability studies. This has been recognised by several disability com m entators, including Haj (1970 ), O live r (1990) , and M cC agg & Siegelb aum (1989) [10]. The form er is notable for his early recognition of the disabled body s absence in the historical discourse. For Haj (1970, p. 13), disability represented `a vast uncharted area of history . His com m ent was to go unheard and 20 years later O live r (1990 , p. xi) felt com pelled to claim that `[o]n the experience of disability, history is large ly silent . Only one historian (Riley, 1987) seems to have acknowledged that the issue of impairm ent in past societies has been large ly ignored. The few attem pts m ade at considering the historical dim ensions of disability hardly am ount to an adequate treatm ent of the issue. T he early study by W atson (1930) , whilst interesting for its empirical content, is both atheoretical and condescending towards its pathologised subject. In it `the cripple is portrayed as a transhistorical problematic which different cultures have had to deal with (`the cripp le and `civilis ation are revealingly juxtaposed in the book s title). The only other notable history of disability Haj s (1970) study of Disability in Antiquity is much less patronising towards its subject. Haj (197 0) carefully circum scribed his interesting study by concentrating on disability in Islam ic Antiquity. W hilst H aj s (1970) historical and cultural purview is much m ore lim ited than W atson s (1930) , his analysis is far richer in theoretical term s. However, lik e W atson s (1930) chronicle, Haj s (1970) investigatio n never seems to have com e to the attention of disability studies. Two Approaches to H istory in Disability Studies T em porality has been ignored or trivialis ed by disability com m entators in a range of speci c ways. Generally, however, two broad types of historiograp hy are evident within disability studies. The rst strategy is by far the m ost com m on and is charac terised by the type of apriorism and speculatio n that A bberley (1985) refers to. The usual form is for a com mentator to present a few paragra phs on the `history of disability (usually restricted to W estern societies, though the am bitious are not usually so restrained) by way of prefatory rem ark to a m ore contem poraneous study. Exam ples of the `microscopic history approach are alm ost lim itless see, for exam ple, Sa lios-Rothschild (1970) , the essays in the Laura (1980) collection, T opliss, (1982) , H arriso n (198 7), Lonsdale (1990) , and Smith & Sm ith (1991 ). The chief defects of these historical sketches include brevity, lack of empirical substantiatio n, theoretical underdevelopm ent and rei cation (through idealist tendencies). W hilst there is neither time nor need to explore all of these de ciencies in detail, it is worth pausing to consider certain of the consequences that these studies

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have had for the historical consciousness of disability enquiry. Importantly, the lim ited historiograp hy of disability studies seems to have burdened the eld with a num ber of assumed orthodoxies about the social context of impairm ent in previous societies. The rst orthodoxy is the belief that the predom inance of a `Judeo-Christian ethic in past European (particularly pre-modern) societies was directly responsible for the historical oppression of impaired people. Sm ith & Smith (1991, p. 41) evidence the continuing currency of this view by pointing to the Judeo-Christian ethic of associating physical defects with sin. Since people are supposedly created in the image of G od, anything which fails to t that image is deemed im perfect that is, not Godly and hence evil. According to this judgem ent, people with physical disabilities, through their obvious blemishes, are wanting and epitom ised as bad T wo objections m ay im m ediately be raised to this orthodoxy. First, it is not at all clear that disabled people were subject to universal social or religiou s antipathy in pre-modern societies. This is an a priori speculatio n which ignores the com plexity of how discursive religio us and ethical mores were socially concretised for disabled persons. The fallac y of reading historical m aterial reality directly from ideological/ religio us texts or aesthetical records of the past is a failin g of idealist approaches in general. Secondly, this conjecture is a case of m ethodological delendum subjectum, relyin g on a sim plism in this instance the `Judeo-Christian ethic to justify the absence of com plicating historical realitie s. The history of Judeo-Christian thought and practice can hardly be explain ed through appeal to a single `ethic . Christianity had a m uch m ore com plex presence in European society than such a construction would allo w, with its teachings subject to localised interpretations, and even rejections, in varyin g periods. Even theologically, Judeo-Christian thought was hardly a cohesive `ethic , being charac terised by discrepancies of interpretation at many levels; the constant disagre em ents over the spiritu al signi cance of materialities being one exam ple of these. There were certainly many lines of religio us thought on the question of disability. The in uential philosophy of Spinoza (1632 1677), for exam ple, opposed negative constructions of disability. For Spinoza: A physical cripple is such because of its place in the system: G od has not tried to produce perfection and failed (Urm son & Ree, 1989, p. 30 5). In addition, in the realm of everyday life, feudal peoples m ay have welcom ed the presence of disabled mendicants, as Braudel (1981, p. 508) explain s: In the old days, the beggar who knocked at the rich m an s door was regard ed as a m essenger from God, and might even be Christ in disguise. T hough subject to a varie ty of interpretations (e.g. Bovi, 19 71; Foote, 1971), the inclusion of variou s groups of lam e beggars in the works of Bruegel (1520? 1569) (see especially The Fight Between Carnival and Lent and The Cripples) would seem to

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signify that those with physical `maladies had a valued place within the pre-m odern social order. The other rei cation of the schematic approach to history is the view that all im paire d people were beggars in the pre-industrial era. This orthodoxy is explain ed by Sa lios-Rothschild (1970) : the disabled have always been `problematical for all societies throughout history, since they could not usually perform their social responsibilitie s satisfactorily and becam e dependent upon the productive ablebodied. (Emphasis added.)

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H ahn (1988, p. 29 ) is also convinced that disabled people in the pre-modern world were doomed to becom e either beggars or m instrels who wandered through the countryside until they becam e the rst group to receive outdoor relief under the English Poor Law of 1601 and subsequent legislation. Elsewhere he repeats this view in even m ore strongly fatalistic term s: To the extent that disabled persons had any legitim ized role in an inhospitab le enviro nm ent prior to the advent of industrializa tion, they were beggars rather than com petitive members of the labor force. (Hahn, 1987, p. 5.) Consequently: Unlik e m ost disadvantaged groups, disabled adults never have been a signi cant threat to the jobs of nondisabled workers (Hahn, 198 7:5). W illiam s & Thorpe (1992) , although not writin g within the disability studies discourse speci cally, testify to the resilience of the disabled-as-beggars approach in A ustralia. They quote Cass et al. (19 88) in the following: In Australia, people with disabilities were regard ed in the nineteenth century as part of the `deserving poor and, as such were `approp riate objects for pity, protection and charity . (W illiam s & Thorpe, 1992, p. 110.) T he effect of this view is to silence history, projecting disabled people s relatively recent experience of service dependency and m argin alisation through the entirety of past social form ations. T his assum ption m ust be rejected on two grounds. First, it is based on a lim ited reading of extant textual and visual records of disability and m akes no attempt to capture the concrete experience of im paired persons in historical societies (Scheer & Groce, 1988). Thus, the view of all disabled persons as beggars is based upon an ontological and methodological selectivity which must inevitably run the danger of rei cation. Second, this construction of disability in history has odious politic al implications by encouragin g the identi cation of im pairm ent with social dependency. The second approach to history in disability studies is relatively recent in origin . It contrasts with the rst, being charac terised by a greater depth of analysis, the

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consultatio n of documentary evidence (to varyin g degrees), and reference to m ajor historical and social theories. This analysis will review two exam ples of this [11]: rst, the chronicle produced by Stone (1984) which has received considerable attention; and second, the historical m aterialis t accounts offered by Finkelstein (1980) , Oliver (1986, 1990), and Abberley (1985, 1987, 1991a, b). As its title The Disabled State indicates, Stone s (1984) history is predicated upon a statist approach [12]. In this she posits the historical existence of dual `distributive systems in societies: one involvin g the activities of those producing suf cient value to m eet their own needs and m ore; and the other, a sort of social circuit of dependency which includes those who cannot m aintain self-suf ciency. From this dualism a basic `redistrib utive dilem ma is held to arise, presenting an enduring socio-politic al problem for states. The tension between the two system s based on work and need is the fundamental distributive dilem m a (Stone, 1984, p. 17, em phasis added.) For her, disability is explained as a juridical and adm inistrative construct of state policy which is aim ed at resolving this supposed redistributive predicament. M any objections must be raised to Stone s (1984) chronicle. However, a full exegesis of these cannot be entertained here, and the follow ing analysis will be lim ited to two general critic isms. First, the historiography of the account is both selective and am biguous. The chief defect is the projection of the `redistributive dilem m a construct seemingly through all history; an epistem ological presum ption which has little em pirical substance. This `distributive dilem ma is, for example, of doubtful relevance to the explanation of prim itive societies where a dichotom y between `producers and dependants was neither obvious, nor culturally-enshrined. In reality, Stone (1984) is referring to a far m ore recent episode of hum an history where social form ations have been charac terised by rem uneration systems which assum e a direct reciprocity between indiv idual work and individ ual reward. T hat Stone (198 4, p. 15) really has these social formations in m ind is evidenced by her claim that `societies face the problem of how to help people in need without underm ining the basic principle of distribution according to work. (Em phasis added.) T he reciprocity between work and reward for individuals which is assum ed here is not a `basic principle in prim itive societies. M andel (1968, p. 31) provides clari cation on the prim itive organisation of lab our: Differences in individual productive skill are not re ected in distribution. Skill as such does not confer a right to the product of individual work, and the sam e applies to dilige nt work. T he co-operative character of the prim itive lab our process favours a com m unal, rather than individual, distribution of the social product [13 ]. The anthropologists, D ettwyler (1991) and Scheer & Groce (1988), doubt that any `distributive dilemm a can easily be identi ed in any past society, let alone in

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prim itive social forms. Dettwyler (1991) sees the social category of dependency as exceedingly uid, and warns again st the tendency to reduce it to physical im pairm ent: In reality, every population has m em bers who are, for varyin g lengths of tim e, nonproductive and nonself-supporting. (1991, p. 379.) D ettwyler believes that as with children, disabled people in m ost societies partic ipate as m uch as they can in those activitie s that they are capable of perform ing. (1991, p. 380.)

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T hus, [e]very society, regardless of its subsistence base, has necessary jobs that can be done by people with disabilities (D ettwyler, 1991, p. 380 .) T he consequence of this view is that [i]t is presumptuous of anthropologists to assum e that they can accurately assess how productive disabled individ uals m ight have been in the past. (D ettwyler, 1991, p. 381.) O ne would expect the accuracy of such analysis to be rather better for societies in the more recent past; D ettwyler is probably thinking of prim itive society when m aking this rem ark. However, the com ment serves as a general caution again st the historicist tendency to cast im paire d people as the objects of a `distrib utive dilem ma throughout hum an history. By historically universalising the qualities of certain m odes of production, Stone (1984) is encourage d to adopt confusing generalisations, such as seemingly equating `peasant societies (a vague term in her analysis) with subsistence form s of production. A subsistence comm unity is characterised by the absence (or extrem e lim itatio n) of productive surplus and m ost com m only refers to sim ple societies such as trib es or hunter-gatherer groups (Jary & Jary, 19 91). Peasant societies, by contrast, em body a different form of social developm ent, usually organised around an agraria n economy, and where surpluses m ay be both comm on and signi cant. Consequently, Stone s (1984) analysis m ust be seen as applyin g only to relatively recent W estern m odes of production viz. feudalism and capitalism in spite of the wider historical am bit it assum es. The second objection to Stone s (1984 ) account is that it avoids or trivialis es the prim al m otive force of distribution the social relatio ns of production. The statist approach emphasises disability as a juridical and adm inistrative construct, thereby subjecting it to conceptual de-materialisation. This approach can only reveal the meaning of disability to the state; it cannot adequately claim to capture the concrete reality of impairm ent in social relatio ns generally. The actual lived experience of im pairm ent in the past can only be sensed through m aterialist analyses of the organisation of production and reproduction [14]. Insofar as Stone (1984) has produced a record of public policy approaches to disability in relatively recent W estern history, the project m ay be seen as a quali ed

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success. T he analysis cannot, however, claim to be an historical explan ation of disability as a concrete social experience. The prim ary motive force in the social construction of disability m ust be the m aterial organisation of production and reproduction. D isability, as a policy response of states to the contradictions of exploitative modes of production, is itself a material force in social relatio ns. H owever, state policy and practice cannot be taken as an accurate em piric al record of how disabled people lived in previous societies. The juridical record, in particular, cannot divulge the historical lived experience of disabled people, however much the law m ay have helped to shape the social context of impairm ent [15]. The great danger of chronicles such as Stone s (1984) is that they (unwittingly?) encourage belief in a `beggare d history of disability. The tendency is to reduce the concrete lived experience of im pairm ent to the more lim ited dom ain of disability as state social policy. This m ust both obfuscate the material genesis of disability and reify the entrenched policy construction of impaired persons as ineluctably dependent upon social support. The history of disabled people, with its potential material com plexity, is reduced thus to a saga of vagabo ndage and m argin ality. Parad oxically, as Abberley (1985) has recognised, this view is effectively an ahistorical one. So far this analysis has reviewed two types of approach to the history of disability: the rst, the idealist, `m icroscopic chronicles evident in policy-orientated literature; and the second, the m ore sophisticated, statist approach of Stone (1984 ). A gain st these, theorists such as Finkelstein (1980) , Leonard (1984) , Oliver (1986, 19 90), and A bberley (1985, 1987, 1991a,b) have proposed a historical m aterialist explan ation of disability. Although none of these authors has offered a com prehensive materialist chronicle of disability (O liver com es closest with a useful historical chapter in his 1990 study), their analyses have clearly established the need for such an endeavour. In addition, the works of O live r (1986, 1990 ) and Abberley (1985, 19 87) represent, together, an im portant step towards de ning the elem ents of a m aterialist history of disability. At one point O live r (1990) voices an am bivalen ce towards historical materialism , but he is clearly guided by this mode of analysis in his speculatio ns about past treatm ents of im paire d persons. Though som etimes given over to pluralism , and idealism [16], the work of H ahn (1986, 1987, 1988, 1989) is also inclined towards a materialist interpretation of W estern history. Finkelstein (1980) , whose early com m ents on the history of disablem ent provided an im portant spur to the interest of Oliver and A bberley in this question, may also be counted as a `fellow -traveller of m aterialism . However, the rather enigm atic charac ter of Finkelstein s (1980) historiograph y is a serious point of difference. Though yet to produce m uch in the way of historical empirical substance, this m aterialis t approach in disability studies is important for the conceptual break it asserts with other forms of explan ation. Of critical importance is the assertion by these m aterialis t analysts that disability is both a socially- and historically-re lative social relation that is conditioned by political-econom ic dynam ics. Thus, Oliver (1990) is able to argue that the concrete experience of, and attitude towards, impairm ent has differed between modes of production. Feudal society, for exam ple,

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B. J. Gleeson did not preclude the great majority of disabled people from partic ipating in the production process, and even where they could not participate fully, they were still able to make a contribution. In this era disabled people were regard ed as individ ually unfortunate and not segregated from the rest of society. (O live r, 1990, p. 27.)

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O live r (1990) is clearly again st the `beggared view of im pairm ent in history. The feudal situation is one that Oliver (1990) and the other m aterialists contrast with the experience of disablement in capitalist social form ations. For these com m entators, disability is viewed as a historically- and socially-s peci c outcome of social developm ent. Consequently, they are at pains to point out that im pairm ent hasn t always been equated with dependency, and that material change m ay liberate disabled people from contem porary form s of oppression.

O utline for a H istorical M aterialist Account From Critique to Theory A historical materialist evaluation of disability studies has been presented. The assessment is that recent theories of disability are in the main seriously de cient in the critical areas of epistem ology and historiograph y (though som e im portant exceptions were identi ed). In particular, four speci c areas of theoretical weakness were identi ed. The critic ism s were: the detachm ent from m ajor social theory; idealism ; the xation with norm ality; and historical unconsciousness. These de ciencies have prevented the eld of disability studies from realisin g its potential to challe nge the structures which oppress impaired people. The epistem ological super ciality of m any disability accounts was pointed to. H owever, the analysis also highlig hted the failure of the broader social sciences to consider the question of disability. This can be attrib uted to the neglect of the body in general within social theory historically. The tradition of historical m aterialist thought stands similarly condem ned, having failed in the past to acknowledge the m aterial im portance of both the body and disability in social relatio ns (G leeson, 19 93). The policy orientation of disability studies was seen as both a strength and weakness of the eld. W hilst the policy focus m ay explain the theoretical shallow ness of certain explanations of disability, it also dem onstrates a concern for praxis so often lacking in other areas of social science. Disabled writers have contributed powerful accounts of the concrete experience of the oppression of disablem ent. A historical m aterialist approach would seek to cultivate this evident strength of the eld, thereby foreclosing on any tendency to subject disability to abstract contem plation.

M aterialising Disability T he historical m aterialist view of disability is a recent development. In the past, M arxian theory and practice has ignored or trivialis ed m ost social oppressions that

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weren t dependent upon class; critical social dynamics like gender, race and disability were sim ply ignored or m argin alised as theoretical `specialism s (Vogel, 19 83). In fact, M arx m ade some interesting allusions to disability, in the form of com m ents on the surplus lab our force (the `industrial reserve arm y ) and the `cripp ling effects of industrialism (M arx, 1976) [17]. These remarks, however, were ignored by subsequent M arxist scholars and activists and it m ust be acknowledged that the issue of disablem ent has been large ly neglected in the socialis t tradition [the work of M andel (1968) is a rare exception]. In recent years some m embers of the British D isability Studies com munity have been exploring historical m aterialism as a social theory which m igh t illum inate the genesis and reproduction of disablem ent in W estern societies [see, for exam ple, the work of A bberley (1987, 1991a, b), Finkelstein (1980) and Oliver (1986, 1990)]. Leonard s (1984) attem pt to theorise identity form ation amongst those social groups m argin alised by the capitalist economy, including the unem ployed and disabled people, was an im portant early step in the development of a materialist understanding of disability (Oliver, 1990). Leonard s (1984 ) explanation of the `disabled identity drew upon the inchoate sociological accounts of disability com m entators, such as Finkelstein (1980) and Cam pling (1981) . These early critic al instincts in disability studies encouraged Leonard (1984) to im plicate certain ideological structures (e.g. professional knowledge) and social institutions (e.g. the fam ily) in the genesis of the disabled identity. However, Leonard s materialism is critically lim ited by his failure to problematise, and explain , the political-economic structures (notably, employm ent m arkets) which economically devalue disabled people and thus expose them to ideological margin alisatio n. Am ongst other things, materialism requires the recognition that all social relatio ns are products of the practices which hum ans pursue in meeting their basic needs for food, shelter, affective ties, m ovem ent and the like. The social practices of each com munity are seen as transform ing the basic m aterials both physical and biological received from previous societies (Bottom ore et al., 19 83). These basic, historically-re ceived m aterials are known to m aterialism as ` rst nature , and include everything from the built environm ent to the bodies social actors receive from previous generatio ns. W hen these materials are then taken and rem ade by a succeeding society they becom e known as `second nature . From materialism em erges a distinctive conception of disability which parallels this twin conception of rst and second natures [see, for exam ple, Abberley (1987, 19 91a,b ), Finkelstein (1980) and Oliver (1986, 1990)] . These theorists have insisted upon an im portant conceptual distinction between im pairment, which refers to the absence of part of or all of a lim b, or havin g a defective lim b, organism or m echanism of the body and disability, which is the socially im posed state of exclusion or constraint that physically im paire d individuals m ay be forced to endure (O liver, 19 90). From this disability is de ned as a social oppression which any society m ight produce in its transform ation of rst nature the bodies and m aterials received from previous social form ations. The critical point is that the social construction of physically im paire d people as disabled people arises, in the rst

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instance, from the speci c ways in which society organises its basic m aterial activities (work, transport, leisure, dom estic activities). A ttitudes, discourses and sym bolic representations are, of course, critical to the reproduction of disablement, but are themselves the product of the social practices which society undertakes in order to m eet its basic m aterial needs. Important is the assum ption that im pairm ent is sim ply a bodily state, charac terised by absence or altered physiology, which de nes the physicality of certain people. N o a priori assum ption is m ade about the social m eaning or signi cance of impairm ent. Impairm ent can only be understood concretely viz. historically and culturally through its socialisation as disability or som e other (less repressive) social identity. This is not to say that the m aterialist position ignores the real lim its which nature, through impairm ent, places upon individuals. R ather, materialists seek to separate, both ontologically and politic ally, the oppressive social experience of disability from the unique functional lim itatio ns (and capacities) which im pairm ent can pose for individuals. Impairm ent is a form of rst nature which certainly em bodies a given set of lim itatio ns and abilitie s which then places real and ineluctable conditions on the social capacities of certain individuals. However, the social capacities of im paire d people can never be de ned as a set of knowable and historically xed `functional lim itatio ns . The capacities of impaired people are conditioned both culturally and historically and m ust therefore be de ned through concrete spatiotem poral analyses. Far from being a natural hum an experience, disability is what may become of im pairm ent as each society produces itself sociospatially : there is no necessary correspondence between im pairm ent and disability. There are only historicalgeograp hical correspondences which obtain when som e societies, in the course of producing and reproducing themselves, oppressively transform im paired rst nature as disablement. A s the foregoing survey dem onstrated, there is an established tendency for disability analysts to reduce disability to im pairm ent: the ahistorical and aspatial assumption that nature dictates the social delimitation of disability. A gain st this, m aterialis m recognises that different societies m ay produce environm ents which lib erate the capacities of impaired people whilst not aggrav ating their lim itatio ns. It is certainly possible to point to historical societies where im pairm ent was sociospatially reproduced in far less disablin g ways than has been the case in capitalism . The historical analyses of M orris (1969) , T opliss (1979) , Finkelstein (1980) , Ryan & Thom as (19 87), Gleeson (1993) and Dorn (1994) have all opposed the idea that capitalist society is inherently less disabling than previous social form s. G leeson s (199 3) substantial em pirical investigatio n has shown, for exam ple, that whilst im pairm ent was probably a prosaic feature of the feudal Englan d, disablem ent was not. Gleeson (1993) attribu tes the non-disablin g character of feudal Englis h society both to a con ned realm of physical interaction and, m ore importantly, to the relative ly weak presence of com modity production. He argues that the grow th of comm odity relations in late feudal Englan d (i.e. from around the 15th century) slowly eroded the labour-power of impaired people. M arket relatio ns,

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and the com m odi cation of labour, introduced a social evaluation of work the law of value into peasant households which had heretofore been relatively autonom ous production units. T he increasing social authority of the law of value m eant the subm ission of peasant households to an abstract external force (m arket relatio ns) which appraised the worth of individual labour in term s of average productivity standards. From the rst, this com petitive, social evaluation of individual lab our-power m eant that `slower , `weaker or m ore in exib le workers were devalued in term s of their potential for paid work [see also M andel (1968 ) on this]. Im paired workers thus entered the rst historical stage of capitalis t accum mulation handicapped by the devaluing logic of the law of value and com petitive com m odity relatio ns. Also under the im press of com m odity relatio ns, sites of production were them selves evolving (in fact, convulsively by the late 18th century), and were recreating as social spaces which were compelled by the logic of com petition to seek the m ost productive forms of labour-power. The `origin al handicap which early com m odity relatio ns bestowed upon im paire d people was crucial in setting a trajectory of change in both the social relations of production and their sociospatial settings (e.g. factories) which progre ssively devalued their labour power. The com m odi cation of lab our resulted in the production of increasingly disabling enviro nments in Britain and its colonies. The emergence of the industrial city in the late eighteenth century crystallised the sociospatial oppression of disabled people which had been slowly rising after the appearance of com m odity relations in the late feudal era. One disablin g feature of the industrial city was the new separatio n of hom e and work, a comm on (if not universal) aspect of industrialism which was all, but absent in the feudal era. This disjuncture of hom e and work created a powerfully disabling friction in everyday life for physically im paire d people. In addition, industrial workplaces were structured and used in ways which disabled `uncompetitive workers, including physically im paired people. The rise of m echanised form s of production introduced productivity standards which assum ed a `norm al (viz, usually m ale and non-im paired) worker s body and disabled all others. As M arx (1981) pointed out at the tim e, one result of these changes was the production of an `incapable stratum of labour, m ost of which was eventually incarcerated in a new institutional system of workhouses, hospitals, asylum s, and (later) `crippleages . Industrialism , he believed produced too great a section of the population which is incapable of work, which owing to its situation is dependent on the exploitatio n of the labour of others or on kinds of work that can only count as such within a miserable m ode of production. (M arx, 1981, p. 366.) For impaired people then, the social history of capitalism appears as a sociospatial dialectic of comm odi cation and spatial change which progressively disabled their lab our power.

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The N eed for H istorical-M aterialist Research T he foregoing presented an historical sketch of the oppressive socialisatio n of the im paire d body in a relatively recent period of hum an history. [G leeson s (1993) analysis provides a comprehensive version of this account, contrasting the experiences of disabled people in late feudal Englan d and Colonial (19th century) M elbourne.] However, there rem ains a vast continent of human history including, for exam ple, `prim itive and Classical societies which rem ains unexplored by m aterialist scholars of disability. M oreover, the heretofore lim ited attempts to analyse the concrete situation of disabled people in the variety of feudal and industrial capitalist societies aw ait further em pirical elaboratio n. (W hat do we know, for example, about the speci c experiences of disabled people during the separate, rst phases of industrialisation in Britain and the United States?) There is, therefore, a pressing need for em pirically-grounded research on the social experience of disabled people in nearly all historical societies. Such research is urgently required if m aterialism isn t itself to repeat the errors of conventional social science by proposing ahistorical and speculative accounts of disablem ent. There is, of course, a more imm ediate politic al reason underscoring the call for em pirically-sound research on disability by materialist analysts. A distinguishing, and politic ally-salient, feature of m aterialism is its insistence that the fundamental relatio nships of capitalis t society are im plicated in the social oppression of disabled people. This suggests that the elim iniation of disablem ent (and, for that m atter, m any other form s of oppression) requires a radical transformation, rather than a reform, of capitalism . Historically-gro unded research is thus needed both to identify those speci c dynam ics of capitalism which oppress disabled people and also to demonstrate the ways in which im pairm ent was experienced in alternative social form ations. The latter research aim is critical given that capitalism has not been the exclusive source of disablement in hum an history, and the project of creating a new, non-disablin g society m ust surely have regard for the oppressive potential of putative ly-em ancipatory political movem ents. For this reason, it is politic ally im portant that m aterialis ts turn a critical gaze towards the historical experience of disabled people in `socialist societies.

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A Radical Political Agenda W hat are the conceptual and political im plicatio ns of the m aterialis t viewpoint for disability? An im portant argument of the foregoing review was that disability cannot be dematerialised and explained sim ply as the product of discrim inatory beliefs, symbols and perceptions. M aterialism opposes such idealism by arguing that distinct social oppressions, such as disability, arise from the concrete practices which de ne a m ode of life. O live r, for exam ple, has argued that the experience of im pairm ent cannot be understood in terms of purely internal psychological or interpersonal processes, but requires a whole range of other m aterial factors such as housing, nance, em ploym ent, the built enviro nment and family circumstances to be taken into account. (1990, p. 69.)

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T his is certainly not to say that attitudinal change, for example, should not be an im portant goal in the struggle again st disablem ent. The m aterialist view acknowledges the critical role of beliefs, sym bols, ideologies, and the lik e, in reproducing disabling social enviro nm ents. [Shakespeare (199 4), for example, has argued persuasively for the consideratio n of `cultural representations within `social models of disability.] However, the central em phasis for a transform ative politic al practice m ust be on changing the m aterial structures which margin alise and devalue im paired people. Im portantly, these structural phenom ena cannot be reduced to sim ple `material surfaces , such as the built enviro nm ent, but m ust include the social practices and institutions which devalo rise the capabilitie s of impaired people [18]. The discriminatory design of workplaces, for example, often appears to disabled people as the im m ediate source of their economic exclusion. However, this is true in only a very im m ediate sense. The real source of econom ic devaluation is the set of sociostructural forces that condition the production of disablin g workplaces. The com modity lab our market is, for exam ple, clearly im plicated in the construction of disabling em ploym ent enviro nm ents. T his m arket realm , through the principle of employm ent competition, ensures that certain individuals (or bodies) will be rewarded and socially-en abled by paid labour, whilst others are econom ically devalued and sentenced to social dependency, or worse. An obvious targe t for change is the social system through which the labour of individuals is valued (and devalued). This suggests that the com m odity labour m arket m ust either be dispensed with or radically restructured so that the principle of com petition is displaced from its central role in evaluating tness for em ploym ent (cf. Barnes, 1992; Trowbridge, 1993; Lunt & Thornton, 199 4). The com modity lab our m arket uses the lens of competition to distort and magnify the lim itatio ns of im paire d people: a just society would seek to liberate the bodily capacities of all individuals (cf. Y oung, 1990). Short of a profound transform ation of competitive labour relations, it is dif cult to im agine the end of disablement. In the era of global `market truim phalism (A ltvater, 1993), m any will prom ptly dism iss the m aterialist view forthwith as politic ally naive. A recognition, however, that comm odity relatio ns exploit workers or that patriarchy oppresses wom en has not stopped feminist and class-based social m ovem ents pursuing broad political change aim ed at transforming these oppressive structures. N either should the vastness of the emancipatory project overw helm disabled people and their allies.

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NOT ES [1] Historical materialism the philosophical underpinning of M arxist social theory sees the production of people s natural (physical) needs as the motive force in human history (Bottomore et al. , 1983). Very broadly, materialism is a mode of social explanation that emphasises the economic and social activities which humans undertake in order to m eet their everyday needs. In this view, ideological, psychological and other non-material processes, are seen as important, though not in themselves determinative, dynamics in social life.

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[2] [3] [4] [5]

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This is to say, self-consciously organised, rather than lucid or insightful. Barnes (1995, p. 378) has argued recently that `most of the work on disability coming out of the USA has been bereft of theory . There are relatively few academic departments which deal exclusively with disability theory and policy in W estern universities. The collections edited by Barton (1989) and Swain et al. (1993) are exceptions to this observation; although in both volumes the engagement by m any of the contributing authors with social theory is both uneven and limited. See, for example, the collection by Begum et al. (1994) and the recent review of this by Oliver (1995). Normalisation continues to inform service policy and practice in many Western countries: witness the recent volume of essays on Norm alisation in Practice edited by Alaszewski & Ong (1990). See also Wolfensberger & Nirje (1972) for a full explanation of the principle. The title of Hevey s (1992) recent treatise on disability, social theory and photography suggests the abandonment of disabled people by the discipline of history. These authors make the general claim that `while modern social science developed, the disabled as a social group were ignored (M cC agg & Siegelbaum, 1989, p. 5). The six historical essays on disability in the Soviet Union in the M cCagg & Siegelbaum (1989) collection m ust also be noted here. Unfortunately, the rather singular national focus of the studies reduces their relevance to the present discussion. See also Berkowitz (1987) and Liachowitz (1988) for alternative statist accounts which focus on the development of disability policy in the United States. `The customs and code of honour of the tribe are opposed to any individual accumulation in excess of the average (M andel, 1968, pp. 30 31, his em phasis). It is timely, given this and previous criticisms, to recall here Marx s (1978, p. 5) warning that we cannot judge `a period of transformation by its own consciousness; on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained rather from the contradictions of material life . Liachowitz (1988) has also produced a chronicle of American disability legislation. The author alludes to a materialist position by asserting that disability is the product of the `relationship between physically impaired individuals and their social environments (1988, p. 2). However, Liachowitz later reduces this `social environment to its juridical content by announcing her intention to `demonstrate how particular laws have conv erted physical deviation into social and civil disability (1988, p. 3, em phasis added). Thus, the entire m aterial substrate of the social environment vanishes leaving only a juridical superstructure. C riticism of the important and erudite work of Hahn is made with some hesitation. However, it m ust be said that he tends at times to dematerialise his analysis by relying too heavily on aesthetically-based explanations of disability (see especially his 1987 paper). According to M arx, the industrial reserve army included `the demoralised, the ragged, and those unable to work , including `the victims of industry the mutilated (1976, p. 797). See Gleeson (1993, 1995) and Longmore (1995), for a fuller explanation of the dangers of crude m aterialisms which reduce the the social oppression of disability to a problem of `access in the built environment.

[6] [7]

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[8] [9] [10] [11]

[12] [13] [14]

[15]

[16]

[17] [18]

REFERENCES A B BERLEY , P. (1985) Policing Cripples: social theory and physical handicap, Unpublished Paper, Bristol Polytechnic. A B BERLEY , P. (1987) The concept of oppression and the development of a social theory of disability, D isability, H andicap and Society , 2, pp. 5 20. A B BERLEY , P. (1989) Disabled people, normality and social work, in L. B ART ON (Ed.) Disability and Dependency (London, Falmer).

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