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How does the concept of citizenship contribute to our understanding of the experience of disabled people?

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Introduction

The concept of citizenship is essentially a contested one and can be difficult to define therefore the concept of citizenship will need to be explored. Disabled people will then be located within Marshall's model as they are often neglected from citizenship discussions. The experience of segregation, discrimination and oppression is argued to deny disabled people full citizenship rights. The negative experiences of disabled people can however be related to the dominance of the medical model in policy and practice which will be discussed. The social model brings a powerful challenge to this and seeks to eliminate the barriers to disabled people's full participation in society. The resulting Independent Living Movement then uses the concept of citizenship as a tool to argue for equal rights and empowers disabled people to have choice and control over their lives. Problems can arise however due to disparity in the way professionals and disabled people view independence and will be discussed. The Direct Payments Act (1986) will be analysed as it makes Independent Living possible for disabled people and the Care Standards Act (2000) highlights the tensions between the construction of disabled people as 'vulnerable' and their independence which will be explored. A conclusion will then be drawn. ...read more.

Middle

Goble (2004) argues that the key way in understanding the marginalised experience of disabled people lies in the way disabled people have been constructed as dependent, with dependency being defined as problematic. Blomberg (2003) therefore argues that the most critical issue when it comes to citizenship is that of full participation in society. The failure of social structures to accommodate disabled people and the obstacles to achieving this such as professional domination in services, lack of comprehensive civil rights legislation and lack of disabled people in positions of power results in disabled people having little influence over the issues which affect their lives. The empowerment of disabled people to have choice and control is therefore essential for their access to citizenship. Independent living has been built upon the concept of citizenship and that disabled people should have the right to the same standards of living in society as everyone else (Blomberg, 2003). The independent living movement, in line with the social model of disability argues for equal rights and embodies the most powerful challenge to the oppression disabled people experience. When considering disabled people's experiences alongside non disabled people, disabled people have considerably less choice and control in their lives and struggle for full and accessible citizenship (Lister, 2007). ...read more.

Conclusion

This maintains the second class citizenship status of disabled people. In conclusion, it becomes apparent that although policy rhetoric focuses on the independence, rights, choice and control, 'common sense' ideas about disability and links to vulnerability and risk are still 'disabling' people. Although disabled people use the concept of citizenship to argue for equal rights and full access to mainstream society there is still a lack of recognition of its validity across the spectrum of disability. The concept of citizenship helps us to understand the experiences of disabled people by drawing attention to the barriers faced to full participation in society in comparison to non disabled people. The majority of attention is focused on the welfare and services disabled people receive, however to achieve citizenship requires not only action in health and social care services but across the board in education, housing, transport, employment and leisure facilities (Hasler, 2004). Zarb (2003, cited in Hasler 2004) argues that the lack of action in the removal of barriers is a matter of finance as it widely regarded as 'too expensive' but without improvement in these other areas the achievements and progress made in health and social care settings as a result of the campaigns by disabled people will continue to be thwarted. ...read more.

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