Re-visiting the American Disability Rights Movement: A Cultural Studies Approach
Existing literature that has analyzed the disability rights movement as a social movement has mainly relied on the two frameworks of resource-mobilization and identity politics. However, this paper posits that these two dominant approaches are inadequate to understand a complex movement such as the disability rights movement; also such a focus serves to marginalize components of the movement that are not manifest as direct political action. Drawing on a cultural studies perspective, this paper puts forth alternative analyses of the American disability rights movement – it calls for re-envisioning disabled people’s movement in terms of their everyday practices of resistance and their struggles over re-defining the meanings of disability. Additionally, the paper calls for critically examining the relationship of the disability rights movement with the state and the movement’s representativeness. It is contended that such alternative modes of analysis and soul-searching can re-invigorate this important social movement of our time.
Keywords: Disability Studies, Cultural Studies, Disability Rights Movement
Dr. Vanmala Hiranandani
Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Dalhousie University