Call for Papers: From Each According to Ability? Capitalism, Poverty, and Disability

Canadian Journal of Disability Studies published by the Canadian Disability Studies AssociationFrom Each According to Ability? Capitalism, Poverty, and Disability

Karl Marx (1875/1978) described the political economy of a just society as one organized around the ethos “from each according to … ability; to each according to … need!” (p. 531). The reality for people with disabilities, however, is persistent and disproportionate rates of poverty and unemployment worldwide (World Health Organization, 2011). How well do we understand the reasons for this? And more importantly, what can be done about it? Has disability studies produced an adequate theorization of the political economy of disability?

The Canadian Journal of Disability Studies invites contributions to specifically explore these questions, using a definition of “political economy” as “the study of the social relations, particularly the power relations that mutually constitute the production, distribution, and consumption of resources” (Mosco, 1996, p. 25).

The influential social model could be seen to situate current definitions and experiences of disability within capitalism (Oliver, 1999), and to identify “institutional discrimination” as the source of social inequality (Barnes, 1991). The theory and praxis of disability politics focuses on challenging the medicalization of disability, exploring and developing a positive disability identity and pride, opposing the demeaning practices and policies of welfare states, promoting disabled-led organizations and direct payments for services, advancing disability arts and culture, and most significantly pushing for anti-discrimination legislation and the implementation of human rights for persons with disabilities. Do these political responses follow from the original theoretical contention that the contemporary social construct of disability is rooted in capitalism?

More recently the social model has called for “a radical re-appraisal of the meaning of work for disabled people that goes beyond the rigid confines of paid employment…” and which organizes work around social necessity, obligation, and interdependence (Barnes & Roulstone, 2005). Furthermore, between the need for professional services and the development of self-directed attendant services, people with disabilities should be recognized as both creators and managers of employment (Barnes, 2003). Russell (1998), however, points out the dangers of this “commodification” of disability, in which people with disabilities are seen as a lucrative source of money for medical and institutional organizations. Albrecht (1992) also raises concerns about the implications of “the disability business”.

And what of those people with disabilities who are genuinely unable to work because the nature of their disabilities, rather than the lack of opportunity? Taylor (2004) argues for the “right not to work” and in favour of “cultivating a skeptical attitude regarding the significance of work”—at least as it constructed in a capitalist economy. How do we situate this argument in a political economy of disability?

We welcome article submissions on these and related questions. Other possible topics include, but are not limited to

  • Strategies to address capitalism’s recurring crises as they relate to disability
  • Theories, practices, and crises of the welfare state and disability
  • The intersections of human rights theory and practice and political economic theory and practice
  • Intersections and conflicts between feminism, race theory, queer theory, and crip theory and political economy approaches to understanding and theorizing disability
  • Marxism, neoliberalism, and other economic theories and disability
  • Notions of cross-disability solidarity versus class solidarity
  • The business(es) of disability such as vocational and medical rehabilitation, pharmaceutical and biotechnological interventions, personal support workers and “care” industries, new paradigms of disability employment, etc.
  • Political economy issues of disability in developing countries and across global contexts
  • Issues of identity and inclusion/exclusion within a capitalist political economy

The deadline for submissions is April 1, 2014. All manuscripts must be submitted electronically, in Microsoft Word format, directly via email to this issue’s guest editor Bonita Heath at

Manuscript submissions must be no more than 6,000 words, excluding references, notes, and tables. Submissions should have no more than 40 references.  Keep tables, figures — including graphs, charts, diagrams — and other images to a minimum (no more than 10); all such material must be accompanied by a brief narrative description to ensure accessibility.

For further information please see “Author Guidelines” at


Albrecht, Gary L. (1992). The disability business: rehabilitation in America. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage.

Barnes, C. (2003). Disability. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press; Blackwell Publishers.

Barnes, C. (1991). Disabled people in Britain and discrimination: A case for anti-discrimination legislation. London, UK: Hurst & Co.; University of Calgary Press, in association with the British Council of Organizations of Disabled People.

Barnes, C., & Roulstone, A. (2005). Work is a four-letter word. In A. Roulstone, & C. Barnes (Eds.),Working futures? Disabled people, policy and social inclusion (pp. 315–327). Bristol, UK: The Policy Press.

Marx, K. (1875). Critique of the Gotha Program. In R. Tucker, (1978) The Marx-Engels reader (pp. 525–541). New York, NY: W. W. Norton and Company.

Mosco, V. (1996). The political economy of communication: rethinking and renewal. London, UK: Sage.

Oliver, M. (1999). Capitalism, disability and ideology: A materialist critique of the normalization principle. In R. Flynn J., & R. Lemay A. (Eds.), A quarter-century of normalization and social role valorization: Evolution and impact (pp. 1–16). Leeds, UK: University of Leeds, Centre for Disability Studies.

Russell, M. (1998). Beyond ramps: Disability at the end of the social contract. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press.

Taylor, S. (2004). The right not to work: Power and disability. Monthly Review55(10), 30–44.

World Health Organization, World Bank. (2011). World report on disability. Geneva: World Health Organization.


Developing Europe’s policy skills to advance disability rights

DREAM featured as success story by EU Directorate General for Research, led by Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. The following is an excerpt of the story featured on the EU Directorate General for Research website.

Most Member States of the European Union (EU), and the EU itself, have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). However, while the Convention will mark a major advance both for disability rights and also for European business, the necessary changes to turn it from vision into reality will not happen overnight. Adopting the Convention imposes numerous legal obligations on signatories affecting many areas of daily life.

In the words of the DREAM (Disability Rights Expanding Accessible Markets) project coordinator, Professor Gerard Quinn of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at the National University of Ireland (NUI), Galway: “EU Member States need a lot of new skills and competences to drive this forward.”

The article concludes stating with a quote from the DREAM project coordinator, Gerard Quinn.

“The researchers are already developing a common instinct for where the opportunities for change may lie, and indeed they are starting to create that space themselves. It is beautiful to watch,”

“The phrase I use to sum it up is ‘policy entrepreneurship’ – developing people who can really bring about change that transforms the lives of our citizens with disabilities,”

The remaining article may be found at the EU Directorate General for Research website.

Launch of the European collaborative portal on Assistive Technologies and inclusive solutions

ATIS4all logoThere is a growing concern throughout Europe about the difficulties faced by the organisations involved in the ICT Assistive Technology (AT) field. The ATIS4all collaborative portal is the result of an EU-funded project, which aims to benefit all the key actors in the chain value of ICT ATs and accessibility products (from research centres to the end-users). It is an open and collaborative portal that offers reliable information on ICT ATs, inclusive solutions and R&D initiatives, and fosters online discussion, exchange of knowledge, expertise and sharing of information among its different portal members. Continue reading

Disability, between individual trajectories and institutional rationale: employment, work and social policy

The international symposium “Disability, between individual trajectories and institutional rationale : employment, work and social policy”, funded within the framework of the IReSP/MiRe/CNSA calls for projects, aims to take stock of French research while welcoming international contributions on issues relating to disability, employment and social policies. The symposium will take place on Thursday 11 April and Friday 12 April 2013 at the University of Lille 3, France.

The papers, expected in English or French, will be divided into three issues:

  • Disabled people and employment policies
  • Disabled people at work
  • Occupational interruptions and biographical rupture

Research presented should involve any national or supra-national context and may relate to institutions, individual life courses or, ideally, both. Methods used may be quantitative, qualitative or archive-based.

Deadline for proposed papers: *Monday 3 December 2012*

You will find in the full length call for papers in English and in French, and all information on the symposium will be – gradually – put on this webpage :

There will be no registration fee for our symposium, and we will provide French food and wine to our contributors and discussants. However it will be more difficult to fund transportation and accommodation – still, some exceptions are possible if your institution can’t grant it.

We are enthusiastically looking forward receiving your papers’s proposals.

Louis Bertrand for the organizing comittee

**Organizing committee*: Louis Bertrand, Vincent Caradec, Muriel Delporte, Jean-Sébastien Eideliman *Academic committee:* Jean-Claude Barbier, Jean-Yves Barreyre, Louis Bertrand, Alain Blanc, Marie-Christine Bureau, Marcel Calvez, Vincent Caradec, Muriel Delporte, Michel Desjardins, Jean-Sébastien Eideliman, Benoît Eyraud, Anders Gustavsson, Claude Martin, Barbara Rist, Eric Samoy, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Isabelle Ville, Florence Weber

Position Announcement ‐ Work Disability Research Scientist

""Center for Disability Research, Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety Hopkinton, Massachusetts

We are recruiting a Research Scientist to develop, direct, and implement new studies on understanding and improving the return to work process, with an emphasis on the early phases of returning to work / staying at work. This is a fully‐salaried, permanent position; all results are published in the scientific literature; compensation and benefits are excellent.

The full announcement can be found here.

Despite legislation, disability rights not realised in practice

FRA Press Release Vienna, 7 June 2012

Discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities and people with mental health problems persists despite the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by the EU and 21 Member States. Two new FRA reports capture the experiences of exclusion and discrimination of people with intellectual disabilities or mental health problems. The reports highlight the need to move from institutional to community-based living arrangements and to reformulate laws and policies to make them more inclusive. Both reports are presented at an international conference on “Autonomy and inclusion” in Copenhagen on 7-8 June 2012.

Much still remains to be done to realise the rights of Europe’s 80 million people with disabilities. The CRPD sets out an ambitious path to improve the situation of people with disabilities. The challenge now is to implement it,” said FRA Director, Morten Kjaerum. “FRA’s research illustrates that the fundamental rights of people with disabilities are lagging behind legal guarantees, particularly as austerity measures begin to bite. This work provides the basis for discussions of practical measures that will make a difference to their daily lives.

1) Report: “Choice and control: the right to independent living” The research looked into the experiences of independent living of people with intellectual disabilities and people with mental health problems in nine EU Member States, and found that they often face difficulties in their daily lives. The main problems include:

Laws and policies that do not enable people with disabilities to live independently;

Negative attitudes and prejudice that do not recognise the contribution people with disabilities make to society;

Lack of employment opportunities resulting in reliance on state support and benefits.

The report shows that for independent living to be successful, deinstitutionalisation needs to be coupled with social policy reform in education, healthcare, employment and personal support options. People with disabilities have to be involved in the development of these policies. 

“People at the ministries and authorities should talk to people like me when they develop legislation and policy. They should ask us what we want and need, and not make our lives more difficult.” (Man, 32, Bulgaria, interviewed during the research)

2) Report: Involuntary placement and involuntary treatment of persons with mental health problems The second FRA report underlines that the laws regulating involuntary placement or treatment must consider fundamental rights in accordance with the CRPD. Although all EU Member States have minimum safeguards in place, FRA fieldwork points to overwhelmingly negative experiences of involuntary placement or treatment due to a:

Lack of information and discussion about the process and their situation when they could have been consulted leading to a lack of control over what was happening to them;

Feeling of fear and humiliation during treatment. Voluntary placement and treatments were viewed more positively.

Both FRA reports provide a basis for EU and Member States’ discussions on how to protect and fulfil the rights of people with disabilities, and can be used to support them in fulfilling their obligations under the CRPD. For the full reports see:

Involuntary placement and involuntary treatment of persons with mental health problems ( )

 Choice and control: the right to independent living – Experiences of persons with intellectual disabilities and persons with mental health problems in nine EU Member States ( )

Notes to the editors:

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which entered into force in May 2008 has since been ratified by 21 EU Member States and the EU itself. This is the first legally binding international human rights instrument to which the EU is party. The CRPD requires signatories, among other responsibilities, to make independent living a reality for all people with disabilities, and to support them participating in the community on an equal basis with everyone else.

Mental health problems can affect a person’s thoughts, body, feelings, and behaviour. They include depression, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and conduct disorder.

Intellectual disability is a permanent condition characterised by significantly lower than average intellectual ability, resulting in limitations in intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviour. It is usually present from birth or develops before the age of 18. Examples include: Asperger Syndrome, autism and Down Syndrome.

The nine countries covered in the Choice and control report are: Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Romania, Sweden and the UK.

The Involuntary placement and treatment report provides a comparative law analysis of 27 EU Member States along with personal experiences from the nine countries covered in the Choice and Control report.

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) is mandated to provide evidence-based advice to EU and national decision makers, thereby contributing to more informed, solidly framed and contextualised debates and policies on fundamental rights.

For further information please contact the FRA Media Team E-mail: Tel.: +43 1 580 30 642

Invitation to submit articles to the European Yearbook of Disability Law

The editors of the European Yearbook of Disability Law welcome submissions of articles for inclusion in volume 5 of the series. The Yearbook contains a series of articles on current challenges and developments from analysts and academics working in the field of disability law, and is a highly-regarded, peer-reviewed journal in this field.

The Yearbook aims to provide critical insight into the evolution of European disability law and policy and offers analysis of pressing challenges in a broad range of fields. DREAM ESRs are ideally placed to submit articles to the Yearbook, given the Network’s work in the area of European disability law and policy reform in light of the UN CRPD. Previous articles included in the Yearbook have addressed topics such as: reasonable accommodation, inclusive education, digital and telecommunication accessibility, multiple discrimination, the implementation and monitoring of the UN CRPD, and the intersectionality of the UN CRPD, to name but a few areas discussed.

Articles may address for example, aspects of European Union or Council of Europe law, or undertake an analysis of disability law across European countries.

The next deadline for submission of articles is 28 February 2013, with a view to publication at the end of 2013. Authors are encouraged to contact a member of the editorial board to ensure their article falls within the scope of the Yearbook. All suitable articles are subject to peer review. Articles should be between 10 000 to 12 000 words in length, and authors are asked to provide an abstract of 150-200 words. Submission of an article will be taken to mean that the manuscript has not been published, accepted or submitted elsewhere.

If you are interested in submitting an article to Volume 5 of the Yearbook, please contact one of the editors:

Professor Lisa Waddington Email : lisa.waddington [at]
Professor Gerard Quinn Email : gerard.quinn [at]
Dr. Eilionóir Flynn Email : eilionoir.flynn [at]

**Article written by Prof. Lisa Waddington, Dr. Eilionoir Flynn and Connor Newman**

Call for Abstracts ‘Empowerment through Human Rights’

""Conference of the Doctoral College ‘Empowerment through Human Rights’ of the University of Vienna within the framework of the AHRI-COST Annual Conference 2012

""We invite abstract submissions of PhD students for all the themes below for a conference on ‘Empowerment through Human Rights’ to be held in Vienna, Austria, on 10-12 September 2012. The Doctoral College (Initiativkolleg) ‘“Empowerment through Human Rights’” is an inter-disciplinary group of 13 doctoral students, coordinated by the research platform ‘“Human Rights in the European Context’ of the University of Vienna and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights”. All of the students write their theses on topics related to human rights in a wider sense and have their background in the disciplines of Law, Sociology, Psychology, Development Studies and African Studies.

""At the PhD school of the AHRI/COST conference, we would like to present our individual work and discuss it together with other PhD students writing their theses on related topics. The program will consist of six panels, taking place on two half-days, with three subsequent panels in each session.


Submission of abstracts must be made by Word document using the “Abstract Submission form” and sent to: by 30th April 2012.

Abstracts must be no longer than 300 words and must include your title, name and institutional affiliation and your email address for correspondence. Indicate clearly for which indicated themes below you apply. Please state clearly in the subject section of your e-mail that you are submitting an abstract for the COST postgraduate conference.

The themes for the conference:

  1. Poverty and Territory
  2. Asylum and Migration
  3. Mental Health and Human Rights
  4. Human Rights in Development
  5. Trafficking in Human Beings
  6. Criminal and Social Justice

Other topics related to the issues of Human Rights are also encouraged. Submissions with an interdisciplinary perspective are particularly welcomed. Travel expenses up to €300 and daily subsistence allowance for the duration of the conference will be covered for selected presenters. There is no registration fee. We look forward to reading your abstracts!

The fellows of the Doctoral College ‘Empowerment through Human Rights

Here is the link for the full announcement including application form.

Zero Project

""In January I had the privilege of attending the Zero Project’s International Conference on Good Policies for Persons with Disabilities in Vienna, Austria. The conference was an amazing success. Not only were the discussions and presentations inspirational, the facilities and amenities were outstanding. I personally got the fantastic opportunity to connect with people doing some excellent research, Anna Lawson, and advocacy work, Colin Low.

The Zero Project has recently put forward nominations for outstanding policies and examples of good practices under the principles of the UN CRPD right of persons with disabilities to work. I encourage everyone to please make their contribution to this effort.

Thanks to the Essl Foundation and the World Future Council for facilitating such a phenomenal initiative!

EASPD answers the Accessibility Act consultation

In previous posts, answers to the European Accessibility Act Consultation were presented from two Disabled Persons Organizations, the RNIB and EDF.

""This post shares the answer to the consultation by the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) in order to provide another perspective on the issue of European accessibility policy.

EASPD, represents 10,000 service providers in Europe. Their contribution to the European Accessibility Act consultation consisted of four key messages reprinted here:

  • To be effective the European Accessibility Act should be legally binding, with real force and sanctions
  • The Act should take a holistic approach covering all aspects of life, and not only access to goods and services
  • The Act must apply to all people with disabilities, including people with intellectual disabilities and people with high support needs.
  • The Act should build in mechanisms for monitoring and specialist support and involvement by all stakeholders, including social service providers. A legal framework is not sufficient by itself.

Please read the press release for more information on EASPD’s answer to the EAA consultation.