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Dis-mantling stigma: parenting disabled children in an age of ‘Neoliberal-Ableism’

Thomas, Gareth M. ORCID: 2021. Dis-mantling stigma: parenting disabled children in an age of ‘Neoliberal-Ableism’. The Sociological Review 69 (2) , pp. 451-467. 10.1177/0038026120963481

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Stigma is a dominant presence in many fields, yet the term frequently remains ill-defined, individualist, and dislocated from matters of power, inequality, and resistance. Extending a budding literature on rethinking the sociology of stigma, I draw upon interviews with parents of children with Down’s syndrome to revisit one of sociology’s most enduring concepts. I explore how parents articulate new imaginaries of difference which depart from narratives of disability as tragic and pitiful, and promote notions of dignity and worth. Parents talk of their children as a reason for celebration and pride, discuss their experiences of convivial community relations and public interactions, and praise evolving configurations of disability in popular media. Yet parents simultaneously highlight painful, convoluted, and exhausting experiences with institutions (education, healthcare, welfare) as part of what they believe to be a wider (structural) hostility to disability which force them into a series of ‘fights and battles’. Whilst parents resist deficit framings of their children, and their lives more broadly, parents lament dwelling in a society whereby disabled people endlessly navigate enmity and indifference. In this article, then, I dis-mantle common conceptions of stigma by revealing not only its interactional properties, but also its political economy, in which disabled people are devalued, discounted, and cast as disposable in an age of ‘neoliberal-ableism’ (Goodley 2014).

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Publisher: SAGE
ISSN: 0038-0261
Funders: The Sociological Review
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 September 2020
Date of Acceptance: 28 August 2020
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 22:57

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