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The Deaf Collective: opposition, organization and difference

Attfield, Kate 2013. The Deaf Collective: opposition, organization and difference. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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UK society and the mainstream social sciences typically share the assumption that people need to hear and speak in order to function effectively in the social world. Hence, d/Deaf people are perceived as vulnerable individuals with sensory impairment, social disability, and biological invalidity; d/Deaf people are accordingly eligible for individualised welfare intervention. By contrast Deaf Studies, which this thesis draws upon, critically explores the relativity of linguistic conceptualisations and cultural norms and asserts that Deaf people are members of a purposive, political culture, with an independent British language and identity, comprising a British as well as an international collective, and are without impairment, disability or invalidity. The key research question that my research asks is what is the social position of the Deaf collective in the UK policy-making and political arena? That is, on whose terms is the societal inclusion of Deaf people and the broader Deaf collective to be based and understood? The scope of my inquiry comprises the personal views and professional ambitions of senior executives of Deaf-led third sector organisations, and also the perspectives of senior officers of relevant hearing institutions, and their understandings of their institutions' policies in regard to Deaf people and Deaf organisations. Data from these organisational elites was subjected to detailed narrative and thematic analysis which drew upon key concepts within interactionist and post-modernist thought. The thesis will uncover how third sector Deaf-led organisations face fundamental dilemmas in asserting their collective presence in order to promote their political aims. The analysis will suggest that the Deaf Collective both intellectually and operationally exists in a relatively non-intersecting system, without the wider institutional world noticing its presence. The thesis considers the consequences of this for policy and practice and offers suggestions for a more progressive understanding and involvement of Deaf people and their collective.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2018 19:50

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