9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS01 Sociology and Disability

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Disability, Social Theory and the Body Building II, C3.01

A Transversal Politics of Accommodation: Toward an Expanded Model of Social Justice for Mothers (and Others) with Disabilities

Nancy Fraser's famous model of politics encompassing the three dimensions of redistribution, recognition and representation, offers a productive framework to discuss justice claims in contemporary societies (Fraser 2005). However, in her theorizations Fraser has rarely addressed issues of (dis)ability. Drawing from data collected in a study which explored the experiences of mothers with disabilities and the policy context in Portugal, I show that Fraser's framework is helpful but indeed insufficient to think about a justice paradigm which delivers "participatory parity" to mothers (and others) with disabilities. In fact, even more than other justice claimers, persons with disabilities require that both equality and difference are emphasized, since to ignore one or the other engenders their exclusion (Devlin & Pothier 2006). At a fundamental level, however, Fraser's model disregards the difference of disability and thus also fails to engage with it. To ensure the participation of people with disabilities on equal terms with others in social life, I argue, we need more than redistribution, recognition and representation  we need to re-configure social and physical environments in ways that acknowledge and accommodate non-normative forms of embodiment and ways of life. A transversal politics of accomodation

is thus a fundamental tenet of an expanded model of social justice capable of delivering substantive equality for people with disabilities. In concluding the presentation I offer tangible examples of how such a four-dimensional politics could begin to be developed in the Portuguese context, and with what effects.