Big Society, Disability and Civil Society Research

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

12th August, 2015: Public lecture with Paul Gibson, Disability Rights Commissioner, New Zealand.

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You can download the presentation here:NZ public lecture

Katherine was delighted to be asked to share a platform with Paul Gibson, Disability Rights Commissioner, New Zealand at the University of Otago, Dunedin.

Katherine presented from her research Big Society? Disabled people with learning disabilities and civil society. Her paper co-authored with Dan Goodley Becoming dishuman: re-thinking social policy through disability outlined a dishuman approach to social policy – one in which disabled people play are at the centre in shaping social policy. Drawing on examples from their research in England, they described how disabled people are troubling, re-shaping and extending what it means to be human. They concluded the paper calling for

  • a time when any thought about the human in social policy has in mind what disability does to it
  • that when thinking about the human this will always involve thinking about disability.

Paul Gibson spoke next. He set out his vision for a Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Otago, building on the work of the Donald Beasley Institute and creating a disability plan across the university. Paul called for increased representation of disabled students, staff and governors and for the lived experience of disabled people to be built into the curriculum. Focusing on a human rights approach to disability politics, Paul called for research to play a pivotal role in making disability rights real for the diversity of disabled people. He concluded by asking the audience to challenge their own prejudices, and not limit their own hopes & aspirations and those of others.


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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