Citizenship: locating people with learning disabilities

Gilbert, Tony; Cochrane, Allan and Greenwell, Stuart (2005). Citizenship: locating people with learning disabilities. International Journal of Social Welfare, 14(4) pp. 287–296.



This article first identifies citizenship as an ambiguous con-cept with changing and contested meanings. Next it discusses the methodological commitment of a study conducted in 2001 exploring the conceptions of citizenship permeating learning disability services. The third section identifies four themes linked to the citizenship of disabled people: work, participa-tion, community and consumption. Lastly, the article looks to locate the citizenship of people with learning disability within the framework of governmentality. The analysis of interview material from the 2001 study suggested that there was no coherent idea of citizenship operating through the services. However, the analysis of governmentality provides a richer picture. The different discourses of citizenship, while produc-ing contradictory positions for individuals with learning disability, do nevertheless provide positions to be had when less than half a century ago no such positions existed. In this sense these discourses are productive.

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