Here, you can find publications related to the “Disability Activism in Europe” research project.
If you would like to discuss these publications with Miro Griffiths, please visit the contact page for further details.
Griffiths, M. 2024. The Trouble with ‘Normal’: Finding Hope Through Resistance. In: Beckett AE. and Callus AM. (eds.) The Lives of Children and Adolescents with Disabilities (First Edition). Abingdon: Routledge. [Book Chapter].
How do I start a chapter reflecting on my years as a disabled teenager? Let us start with the context. I lived on the Wirral peninsula, in a semi-detached house, surrounded by the smell of fertiliser on the nearby farmlands. The property had been adapted to accommodate my needs around the age of 10; prior to this, my parents would carry me around the house and plonk me down in different environments – bed for sleeping, dining room chair for eating, living room floor for gaming, and the bath for washing. My power wheelchair could not manoeuvre around the house due to narrow hallways, narrow doors, and tight turning corners. I lived with my father as my parents had divorced when I was 10, although my mother still lived in the same village and my brother had left the family home to gain enlightenment from university.
2023. Disability Activism in Europe [Zine Publication].
The purpose of the zine is to explore young disabled people’s views and experiences of what an inclusive and accessible society would be like. Contributors - young disabled people from across Europe - explored ideas, thoughts, and experiences they have about building accessible and inclusive societies. Contributors considered the following prompts when producing their zine page:
- Explain what accessibility and inclusion means to you.
- Provide examples of the best and worst experiences of accessibility and inclusion in your life.
- Outline what needs to happen to build accessible and inclusive societies.
You can now access the Zine publication. Please choose from the following:
2023. Shifting power relations in disability sport and social activism research: an emancipatory approach [Journal Article].
In answer to appeals for more participatory frameworks to advance qualitative methodologies, this article shows how a novel emancipatory approach to disability research produced significant impact and learnings. We (academics and non-academics) explain how ethical problems experienced in traditional qualitative research designed to understand how grassroots disabled activists in the UK were reacting to the International Paralympic Committee’s WeThe15 campaign, led to the emergence of an ‘emancipatory approach to research’. We discuss how a small group of creative non-academic disabled activists, artists and athletes formed a foundational project called Project Group Spirit to unpick concerns about the WeThe15 campaign and formulate activist interventions in the context of Paralympic sport. Three sets of action-orientated activist findings that arose from the project are described: ‘Disabled Athletes and Artists, and their Activism’, ‘Engaging with WeThe15’ and ‘The Moral High Ground’. These themes, we show, provided the groundwork for the group to organise themselves into a wider principled project called the Disability Knowledge Exchange and Impact Group (KEI Group). The article ends by discussing a) the potential impact of the KEI Group b) academic barriers to emancipatory approaches and c) ways to evaluate emancipatory disability research. This article is an example of emancipatory research in action to help foster high-quality participatory frameworks going forward.
2023. Declare Independence : Independent Living, Oppositional Devices, and Heterotopias. The International Journal of Disability and Social Justice [Journal Article].
This article presents an original and critical interrogation of how disabled activists establish claims and coordinate activities to progress the independent living agenda. The article achieves this by employing Beckett and Campbell’s (2015) concept of ‘oppositional device’, which is used to understand resistance practices and the technologies of power that coalesce around disabled people’s collective action. The article argues that the independent living concept could, similarly, be understood as an oppositional device and this holds potential for furthering the emancipatory claims of disabled people’s social movements. This allows for an understanding of Independent Living Movements as assemblages of technologies that open heterotopias, which engage in the experimentation of what disabled people can be and do through the ideas of independent living. The article draws on empirical data from a study exploring young disabled people’s views and experiences of disability activism across Europe to evidence the claims made.
2023. Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime: Disability Youth Activism and the Pursuit for Inclusive Education. In: Slee R; Tierney R; Ercikan K (eds.) International Encyclopedia of Education (Fourth Edition). Elsevier [Book Chapter].
Disability activism is pivotal for challenging the exclusionary practices and policies that permeate educational environments throughout society. The resistance practices employed by disabled activists follow two trajectories: firstly, to capture the contemporary educational configurations that (re)produce disabled people’s experiences of marginalisation. Secondly, to offer alternative avenues of hope and possibility – experimental spaces to develop agendas, strategies, and roadmaps to realise inclusive education. The ideas and operations of young disabled activists are pertinent within this context, given their recent or ongoing experience of navigating (in)accessible education practices. Their activism is influenced by their attempts to belong, participate, or resist within educational arrangements – their voice matters and should hold a valued position in the design, development, and delivery of inclusive education. This chapter draws on literature investigating young disabled people’s participation in disability activism and social movements. The chapter explores how young disabled activists conceptualise inclusion, as well as the practices they employ to pursue inclusive and emancipatory agendas. This is explored within the context of education policies, and consideration is given to how disability activism complements the pursuit for inclusive education. The chapter argues that inclusive education approaches are required to support young disabled people’s participation within activism and social movements. Disability youth activism provides routes to disrupt exclusionary education policies and contributes to the realisation of inclusive education.
2022. Livin’ in the future: Conceptualising the future of UK disability activism through utopian, retrotopian and heterotopian configurations. Capital and Class [Journal Article].
The article explores how the future is imagined through disability activism. It highlights how UK Disabled People’s Movement members, established and newcomers, envisage inclusive and accessible societies and what role disability activism has in realising such visions. To achieve this, conceptualisations of the future are mapped within a framework of three topias (places/worlds): utopia, retrotopia and heterotopia. These topian configurations provide a way to make sense of activist visions for progressing disabled people’s emancipation. The article argues that the UK Disabled People’s Movement currently produces two dominant conceptualisations of the future: a deterministic, radical overhaul of political and economic arrangements (utopia); and a return to ‘purer’ forms of disability activism produced by historical activists and their networks (retrotopia). Young disabled activists who do not align with such conceptualisations are denied opportunities to influence broad activist strategies and are, instead, relegated to opportunities that necessitate a youth perspective. Young disabled activist’s conceptualisations of the future can be best understood as the production of counter sites, which generate activities, politics and discourses around notions of inclusion, social justice and accessibility (heterotopia). These produce possible and preferable alternatives to the current ordering of the social world – with disability activism becoming spaces that encourage creativity of new ideas, new practices and new options against existing norms and inaccessible worlds.
Publication Link: https://doi.org/10.1177/03098168221137200
Griffiths, M. 2022. Disabled youth participation within activism and social movement bases: An empirical investigation of the UK Disabled People’s Movement. Current Sociology [Journal Article].
Understanding disabled youth activism is key for improving young disabled people’s participation in politics and social change. Young disabled people require opportunities to situate historical and biographical experiences within broader socio-economic contexts. This will lead to a politicised consciousness surrounding disability, emancipation and social justice. This article presents empirical data from the first study on young disabled people’s contemporary position within the UK Disabled People’s Movement. It critically assesses three areas pertinent to youth activism: activist membership, social movement organisation and future considerations for activism. This allows for an exploration of how young disabled activists navigate collective action, influence activist claims and demands and understand the issues for sustaining a disabled people’s social movement. The article illustrates young disabled activists’ desire to disrupt their current position within the UK Disabled People’s Movement and bring into focus a future where young disabled people’s contributions to activism and social movements are accessible, valued and influential. The article argues that a failure to support young disabled people’s participation within social movements will have an adverse impact on their political identities.
Publication Link: https://doi.org/10.1177/00113921221100579
Griffiths M. 2022. UK Social Model of Disability and the Quest for Emancipation. In: Rioux MH; Viera J; Buettgen A; Zubrow E (eds.) Handbook of Disability. Springer [Book Chapter].
The route to disabled people’s emancipation is complex and requires a critique of how the organization of the social world contributes to disabled people’s marginalization. To achieve this, contingents within disability activism have focused on identifying the material and discursive arrangements that (re)produce disabling barriers for people with impairments, health conditions, and diagnostic labels. Activists articulate micro-, meso-, and macro-solutions to destabilize the arrangements that perpetuate disabled people’s marginalization and implement alternatives to support disabled people’s participation in society. For disability activism and disabled people’s social movements to operate effectively, activists need to maintain solidarity. In the UK, activists and social movement members have attempted to build a consensus through determining what disability is and how it is experienced (Griffiths, 2019). This has led to the creation and adoption of the social model of disability – an interpretation that positions disability as an oppressive force, which is imposed on people with impairments through the organization of society (UPIAS, 1975).
Publication Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-1278-7_54-1
2022. Surviving now, planning for tomorrow: Disabled people and COVID-19 policy failures. Eurozine [Internet Publication].
Whether in pandemic or war, the most vulnerable are the first to besidelined. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, authorities haven’t made adequate provision for disabled people, though many are more at risk of contagion in institutions.
Publication Link: https://www.eurozine.com/surviving-now-planning-for-tomorrow/
Griffiths M. 2022. Twitter has been important for disability activism – that’s being lost under Elon Musk. The Conversation [Internet Publication].
Before purchasing Twitter, Elon Musk said that a public platform for free speech is a “societal imperative for a functioning democracy”. As part of this, he claimed that Twitter being “maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilisation”. It has become apparent, however, that disabled people and their access requirements do not feature in Musk’s vision for an inclusive platform. In Musk’s radical restructuring of the company (primarily through mass layoffs), Twitter’s accessibility team has been obliterated. There is no evidence that accessibility roles have moved into other areas of the company.
2021. Miro Griffiths. In: Darke P (ed.) 1981 International Year of Disabled People Stamps. Outside Centre [Book Chapter].
Stamps commissioned for the 1981 International Year of Disabled Persons provide insight into how disability is positioned within existing political, economic, cultural, and social arrangements. It presents imagery of disability representation at that particular point (1981), while it gives way to the alternative, perhaps preferable, visions of how disabled people will participate and contribute in their respective communities. There is the additional layer of viewing the stamps now, in the present, and reflecting on how disabled people experience and navigate the marginalisation and oppression assembled through contemporary ideas, practices, and policies.
Publication Link: https://www.digital-disability.com/home/philately/1981-iydp
Griffiths M. 2020. Disability. In: Ellison N; Haux T (eds.) Handbook on Society and Social Policy. Edward Elgar Publishing [Book Chapter].
Disability policy is yet to receive substantial attention from scholars operating within social policy discourse. This has led to a continuation of policy practice that prioritises individualised, overtly medical approaches to providing support to disabled people. Often leading to institutionalised, segregative, and residual care systems. Disability Studies scholars, disabled activists, and disabled people's social movements remain critical of these systems and the overall direction of contemporary disability policy. There is the possibility of change, evidenced in Disability Studies literature, contemporary policy-making processes, and the ideas emerging from disabled activists and their organisations. This chapter employs the concept of Independent Living, as defined by disabled people's social movements, to understand how disabled people are positioned as active welfare citizens participating in social policy and producing, as well as using, welfare. The chapter critically reviews three issues: the realisation of Independent Living within existing social policy; existing assessment methodologies that (are supposed to) provide social protection to disabled people; and disabled people's influence and engagement with the social policy process. The chapter argues that there remains substantial failings with current social policy aimed at supporting disabled people's access to and participation within society. If the issues explored within this chapter remain dismissed by scholars and policymakers, disabled people's emancipation will never be realised. Independent Living remains a useful lens for critically analysing contemporary social policy that affects disabled people's lives.