Big Society, Disability and Civil Society Research

Website for ESRC research project 'Big Society? Disabled People with Learning Disabilities and Civil Society'

BigSocietyDis hits Finland

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Dan Goodley represented the BigSocietyDis team at an international symposium held at the University of Helsinki between the 4th and 5th June 2015. This event was organised by AGORA (for the study of Social Justice & Equality in education research centre, University of Helsinki) and Critical Educational Psychology Centre for the Human CEPCH (University of Sheffield).

The two event entitled ‘A global epidemic of mental ill-health? Interdisciplinary perspectives on the educational implications of reconfiguring social, economic and human crises’ brought together researchers from the Universities of Helsinki and Sheffield. Dan joined University of Sheffield colleagues – China Mills, Lisa Procter and Kathryn Ecclestone – to speak around the topics of psychologisation, disability and debility. Dan’s paper entitled ‘PRECARIOUS BODIES: THE BIOPOLITICS OF DIS/ABILITY AND DEBILITY’ considered the ways in which the politics of austerity are promoting alliances between disabled people and others ‘debilitated’ by the dance of capital and the rolling back of the welfare state.

Drawing on theories from Jasbir Puar and Lauren Berlant – as well as some recent writing in his 2014 book Dis/ability studies (Routledge) – Dan was also encouraged to think about the ways in which our BigSocietyDis partners are responding in imaginative ways to the politics of austerity. Dan said, ‘This was a great opportunity to connect with colleagues in AGORA and share our findings from our project. Too often, considerations of social, economic and human crises forget to engage with disability organisations. Our BigSocietyDis research has shown us that disability organisations lead the way in reacting to the recent austerity measures in the UK and elsewhere in the world. While disabled people risk being made ever more economically and politically vulnerable by capitalist crises, our BigSocietyDis partner organisations have alerted us to a host of imaginative practices that seek to maintain the community networks of support for people with intellectual disabilities. One way of understanding this is that disabled activists and trade unions have much in common in terms of responding to politics a ideology. The event was also a supportive space to connect with researchers at AGORA whose own work is thinking through some of these crises and pressures and we thank Kristiina Brunila and her colleagues at AGORA for the debates and discussions’.

Some photos from the event:

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 14.10.46 Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 14.10.12 Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 14.07.53 Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 14.07.45

A link to AGORA’s website:

A link to a review by Imogen Tyler of Dan’s book – Dis/ability Studies (Routledge, 2014)


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