Writing the Disabled Self: An Autoethnographic Study of Disablism in England 2015-2018

Davies, Lisa (2022) Writing the Disabled Self: An Autoethnographic Study of Disablism in England 2015-2018. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Digital ID: http://doi.org/10.17030/uclan.thesis.00048606


Writing the Disabled Self is an autoethnography based on my lived experience of disablism in England. This thesis is grounded in a social model of disability, situated within the field of Disability Studies, and employs an Emancipatory Disability Research paradigm (EDR). My research documents and analyses the disablist nature of the relationship between society and self in the areas under study and highlights the human impact of disablism. The underlying premise of my thesis is that disablism exacerbates the experience of living with impairment. My thesis documents this experience in detail using an analysis of a personal journal I kept between 2015 and 2018, supplemented by research by disabled people from a range of sources. My research contributes to existing literature and theory by developing and illustrating the idea of psycho-emotional disablism. I apply Kitchin’s conceptualisation of ‘knowing our place’ and ‘being out of place’ to the experience of disabled people. I illustrate the exclusionary, sporadic, and conditional nature of accessibility for many disabled people including those, like myself, who are wheelchair users. I develop the concept of ‘decrepitification’ to describe and explain the process that claimants must engage in to have a chance of being found eligible for disability entitlements such as Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payment. I apply Garfinkel’s concept of degradation ceremonies to understand and conceptualise the psycho-emotional impact of disability related assessments. Given the enduring nature of disablism, I suggest that disabled people need strategies to help us mitigate its psycho-emotional impact. Therefore, I analyse and explore my use of gaming, humour, and comedy as a form of self-care. My thesis illustrates that disablism is socially embedded, widespread, and commonly unrecognised as a tangible aspect of the lives of many disabled people.

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