Accessible Public Space for the ’not obviously disabled’? Jeopardized selfhood in an era of welfare retraction.
Alan Roulstone, Northumbria University firstname.lastname@example.org
Hannah Morgan, Lancaster University email@example.com
Public space tends to be understood as a technical, physical measureable space external to the individual, technologies likewise are constructed as new technical means to afford or limit access to those environments. Our interest is to tap into the space between disabled people’s self perceptions and the increasingly harsh welfare and media discourses around ‘not genuinely disabled people’. In this sense enabling or disabling space is part physical, part social, and part psychological transaction. The increasingly political emphasis on a sifting the ‘real’ disabled people from the army of ‘malingering opportunists’ ignores the complex relationship between the individual, environment and economy. It also ignores medical, welfare and wider social constructions of just who counts as disabled.
Disabled people can feel they are genuinely disabled in one definition and context and not another. In this presentation we wish to problematise space and technology to think about space as a contested terrain, both imagined and real where lives are constructed as more or less acceptable in a new corporal (bodily) economy. We want to reshape notions of technologies as those things that shape opportunities, in this sense government and political discourses are technologies that profoundly shape how we think about acceptability of sharing space with others. Who counts as disabled and deserving of legitimate use of public space is key to our proposed presentation.
Paper presented at the Disability and Public Space Conference, Oslo University College, Oslo, Norway, 28-29th April 2011.