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Extra resources for Citizenship and Vulnerability: Disability and Issues of Social and Political Engagement

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Chapter 4 Issues in Disability This chapter aims to provide an overview of the position of disabled people in UK society today and of the theorizing that has sought to explain the experience of disability. The first section of this chapter presents an overview of the current state of theorizing on disability. The work of Parsons and Goffman is considered as an important precursor of more contemporary theorizing. The somewhat different theoretical approaches taken by Medical Sociology and Disability Studies are then discussed.

For Marshall, the state provides and guarantees rights, whilst the nation is the focus of identity. Today, according to Delanty, we live in a ‘global age’ in which this link can no longer be assumed. The development of regional governments has caused a shift in sovereignty downwards, whilst simultaneously, trans-national developments such as the EU, have shifted governance upwards, away from the nation-state. The need to re-think the ‘social’ aspect of citizenship, in particular in the light of these changes to the national, trans-national – and in the British case, most centrally the European dimension – has been identified clearly by a number of authors, but most notably by Roche (1987, 1992, 1995, 2002) and Turner (1993a) – Turner particularly focusing on the issue of international human rights.

For the ancient Greeks, the ‘self’ was only as robust as the polity to which it belonged and Aristotle stated that citizenship was a core element of what it means to be human. This was a view of the individual that saw each person as intricately interconnected with society and in a manner that appears to echo much of Giddens’ (1984) notion of the ‘duality of structure’, the ancient Greeks viewed individuals and society as each being coterminous of the other. Further, the ancient Greek notion of citizenship is also infused with a morality that considers those who do not live up to the expectations of citizenship to be inherently ‘selfish’.

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