Big Society, Disability and Civil Society Research

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

Big Society down under – supported by the ESRC and the WUN Mobility Research Programme

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Over the next week, members of the Big Society and Dishuman research team are in Australia and New Zealand to share the work of the project with colleagues in self-advocacy organizations, universities parents/family carers and other allies to disabled people. Dan Goodley’s visit has been funded, part by the WUN Research Mobility fund, and both Dan and Katherine Runswick Cole’s visit continues to be supported by the funding of the Big Society project by the ESRC.

Dan’s WUN Research Mobility Programme Project is entitled ‘Promoting critical disability studies and participatory research: International connections’ which brings together Disability Studies at the University of Sheffield and the Centre for Disability Studies (CDS) at the University of Sydney. Over the next couple of weeks Dan will be working with Professor Patricia O’Brien (director the CDS at Sydney) on a number of collaboration symposia, seminars, conferences and research workshops. These activities will support the two universities to lead a collaborative pan-national research bid on ‘Institutional Disablism’. The two universities are also joined by Big Society colleagues Katherine Runswick Cole (Manchester Metropolitan University) and Toby Brandon (Northumbria University) as well as colleagues Kathy Boxall (Edith Cowan University) and Paul Ramcharan (RMIT, Melbourne) who will join the team next week.

Dan said, ‘thanks to the funding by the WUN Mobility Research Mobility Programme’ this has allowed me to come over to Sydney to collaborate with Professor O’Brien, Katherine and other colleagues to share research findings around understanding and contesting institutional disablism. The larger objective is to devise and submit a research project that will seek to challenge institutional abuse in and across the UK and Australia. Patricia and I have put together a programme of work that not only seeks collaboration with universities but also draws on the innovative activist practices of self-advocacy groups and allies of people with learning disabilities who are dealing with disablism in a time of austerity. This feeds also into our Big Society project which is identified not only the precarious position of disabled people in these austerity time but also has highlighted imaginative responses of civil society’.

The first event, 30th July, 2015: Critical disability studies in the UK and Australia: Making Connections, The Centre for Disability Studies, The University of Sydney, New South Wales brought together over twenty disability studies academics came together to talk about the state of play for critical disability studies in the UK and Australia. Colleagues came from as far away as Japan and included people affiliated to both the University of New South Wales and The University of Sydney as well as activists and practitioners in the field. The project team was keen to visit the Centre for Disability Research at the University of Sydney as the Centre has a long tradition of working in coproduction with disabled people in carrying out research. The presentation sparked a variety of discussion points including issues of the institutionalization of disabled people in Australia and the UK, as well as shared questions and concerns the about self-advocacy in both contexts. One recurring discussion was the importance of the emergence of dis/ability, crip, Global South and Ableist studies. You can download the presentation here: disentangling disability studies.

Please keep checking our blog for details of the other events


Author: Katherine RC

Katherine is Research Fellow in Disability Studies and Psychology at the Research Institute for Health and Social Change at Manchester Metropolitan University

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