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Big Society? Disabled people with the label of learning disabilities and the queer(y)ing of civil society

Goodley, Dan and Runswick-Cole, Katherine (2014) Big Society? Disabled people with the label of learning disabilities and the queer(y)ing of civil society. Scandinavian journal of disability research, 17 (1). pp. 1-13. ISSN 1745-3011

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Abstract

This paper explores the shifting landscape of civil society alongside the emergence of ‘Big Society’ in the UK. We do so as we begin a research project Big Society? Disabled people with learning disabilities and Civil Society [Economic and Social Research Council (ES/K004883/1)]; we consider what ‘Big Society’ might mean for the lives of disabled people labelled with learning disabilities (LDs). In the paper, we explore the ways in which the disabled body/mind might be thought of as a locus of contradictions as it makes problematic Big Society notions of: active citizenship and social capital. Our aim is to queer(y), or to trouble, these Big Society ideas, and to suggest that disability offers new ways of thinking through civil society. This leads us to three new theoretical takes upon civil society: (1) queer(y)ing active citizenship, (2) queer(y)ing social capital and (3) shaping, resisting and queer(y)ing Big Society. We conclude by suggesting that now is the time for disabled people with LDs to re-enter the fray in a new epoch of crip civil society.

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