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'We wouldn’t change him for the world, but we’d change the world for him’: parents, disability, and the cultivation of a positive imaginary

Thomas, Gareth ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4959-2337 2022. 'We wouldn’t change him for the world, but we’d change the world for him’: parents, disability, and the cultivation of a positive imaginary. Current Anthropology

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Abstract

Down’s syndrome (DS) occupies a curious position in the public imaginary in the United Kingdom (UK). There is a growing public, and positive, presence of people with DS in cultural outlets and across networks of people with experiences of disability. Simultaneously, there is a troubled history of institutionalization and stigmatization of people with DS, the condition is targeted in prenatal screening programs, and parents of children with DS struggle to secure sufficient resources and social support to thrive. Drawing upon a qualitative study where I examined such tensions, I show how parents of children with DS craft a positive imaginary of living with, not despite, disability. Parents articulate affirmative accounts that highlight the value, significance, and ordinariness of their, and their children’s, lives. Moreover, they actively participate in community-building practices with other parents, in which they collectively attempt to build a habitable world for their disabled children. Whilst recognizing the challenges posed by parenting a disabled child, parents are equally pulled into a project of cultivating positive conceptions of living with disability. In so doing, they fashion and present alternative narratives that revolt against dominant deficit understandings of pity, abjection, and misfortune.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
ISSN: 0011-3204
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 26 July 2022
Date of Acceptance: 6 July 2022
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2024 06:44
URI: https://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/151096

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