Citizenship and the deaf community

Emery, Steven David (2006) Citizenship and the deaf community. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The concept of citizenship has been much debated in the scholarly literature, but little has been undertaken to apply the notion to the problems faced by Deaf communities. The intention of this study is to consider whether such a concept might be a useful framework for addressing such problems and issues.
The research literature on citizenship tends to be theoretical and philosophical, with little attempt to engage directly with citizens to ascertain their views and beliefs. In addition, Deaf citizens' views are rarely sought on a politically-related topic, with the tendency for involvement in small-scale research but little interaction on research findings. This thesis aims to break that mould in a unique way. Using a qualitative research approach, it combines empowering research methods along with a critical discourse analysis of the data findings. Six focus groups of Deaf citizens were set up across the UK, and a series
of research consultation group meetings involving Deaf citizens was also arranged, to explore the researcher's findings from the focus groups. Ten external stakeholders were interviewed to provide a view from a policyinaker's angle. An interpretation of the data was undertaken based on the Viennese approach to critical discourse analysis - this approach begins by valuing the historical and social circumstances of a minority group, alongside the carrying out of a discourse analysis of the data.
The findings indicate that normative definitions of citizenship are inadequate to effectively encapsulate Deaf citizens' experience. The concept of citizenship was discovered to have a 'hidden dimension' that is revealed by understanding the ways in which Deaf citizens interact in society. In particular, the phonocentric character of citizenship is designed to leave Deaf citizens in perpetual disadvantage. A process of renegotiation is necessary in the policy arena to begin to adequately reflect Deaf peoples' experiences as citizens of humanity

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