The reception of disability-related social rights (disabled adult benefit, disability compensation benefit) is marked by a paradox: although they are factors of autonomy, they are perceived negatively. This chapter explains this paradox by the link between rights consciousness and the administrative relationship. The effectiveness of benefits is diminished by the ways in which they are implemented and by users’ perceptions of this process. The experience – and expectation – of heavy supervision, conflicts over needs assessments and disability levels, interruptions in payments, and unmanageable delays create a lack of trust and predictability, as well as a perception of disrespect. Social rights then fail in their capacity to reduce uncertainty and to act on people’s perception of their social status by making them subjects of rights. Whether the eventual outcome is non-take-up, or distrustful or reluctant take-up, rights consciousness is therefore tenuous and unstable.
This concluding chapter sums up the main conclusions of the book that justify speaking of ‘fragile rights’: often imprecise from the moment they are legally enshrined, disability-related rights suffer from major shortcomings in terms of effectiveness in all the studied areas (education, employment, social policy, accessibility). Faced with these imperfectly realized rights, many individuals protest (at least in the interview situation) and take action, negotiate, tinker, adapt, to make their rights more concrete, and in the same movement, to assert themselves as subjects of rights. This everyday politics takes place at a distance from the collectives involved in the politicization of disability, whether they be associations or public officials, towards whom several people make a demand for descriptive representation.
The French version of this book was the winner of the 2022 Grand Prix de la Protection Sociale.
Over the years, many disability-related rights have been legally recognized, but how has this changed the everyday lives of people with disabilities?
Drawing on biographical interviews collected from individuals with either mobility or visual impairments in France, this book analyzes the reception of disability policies in the fields of education, employment, social rights and accessibility. It examines to what extent these policies contribute to the realization of the associated rights among disabled people. The book demonstrates that the rights associated with disability suffer from major implementation flaws, while shedding light on the very active role of disabled citizens in the realization of their rights.
In spite of some improvements, the built environment and public transportation are far from being fully accessible. Moreover, in 2014 the government has reneged on a legally enshrined right by postponing the accessibility mandate. This chapter analyses the reception of this partially implemented policy and the difficulties it creates for disabled people in their everyday lives. Through a policy feedback effect, the 2014 reform has produced discontent, fuelling a relative deprivation that, at this stage, is leading more to individual than collective actions. But public space is not only materially hostile to disabled people; it is also symbolically so, as one of the main places in which they experience stigmatization. Taking these various dimensions into account makes it possible to specify the social, and not only material, conditions of a real right to mobility.
This introductory chapter develops a theoretical framework combining policy analysis (with an approach in terms of policy reception) and the sociology of law (through the study of rights realization at the individual level) to address the main question raised by the book: to what extent and how does policy reception enable disability rights to become effective in people’s experience? It presents the French context of disability policy and rights, and the methods of the study, drawing on biographical interviews.
This chapter revisits the distinction between special and inclusive education by distinguishing type of schooling, accommodations available, and changes in teaching formats. This framework is then used to analyse the reception of the gradual shift towards a promotion of mainstream schooling in France. In terms of policy reception, the comparison between different generations reveals an objective effect of the promotion of mainstream schooling on educational trajectories (where one is schooled) and expectations (what one subjectively values). Yet the narratives also show the major obstacles to a full realization of the right to inclusion, and the very active role of students and families to overcome them.
In France as elsewhere, disabled people suffer from structural marginalization in the labour market. Employment-related disability rights crystallize the ambivalence of disability policies: between an assumed inability to work that entitles people to benefits and the promotion of workforce participation; and between sheltered employment, quotas, and anti-discrimination. Employment might therefore appear to be the area where disability rights are the most fragile. The chapter shows, on the contrary, how this coexistence of divergent orientations can be analysed as their strong point, potentially opening more opportunities for individuals. After a review of the history of disability policies in the field of employment, the chapter analyses how disabled people negotiate a marginal place in the labour market, in dynamics that combine structural inequalities and the reception of public policies. It then focuses on the effects and appropriations of the flagship measure in this domain, the quota scheme.
The chapter looks at the ways in which decision makers (in this case Approved Mental Health Professionals [AMHPs]) construct and deconstruct their frameworks of understanding relating to the assessment of people who are diagnosed with personality disorders. It focuses on the assessment of service users who are subject to a high number of assessments and appear to occupy a disproportionate amount of mental health professionals’ time, both literally and emotionally.
The chapter is based on extracts from the author’s own research and explores the risk paradigm that AMHPs believe shapes the work that they do – in particular, a culture of blame. The factors that AMHPs believe prevent them from making decisions that they feel are in the best interest of the people they are assessing will be explored and contextualised.
The chapter also explores how theories of alienation – in particular, malignant alienation – can help AMHPs and other mental health professionals understand the negative relationship cycles that reinforce unhelpful coping strategies. A critical approach is taken towards the medicalisation and pathologising of what are essentially psychosocial behavioural reactions, and alternative interventions for managing what are perceived as service users’ unhelpful or self-defeating coping strategies are discussed.
For anyone studying childhood or families a consideration of the state may not always seem obvious, yet a good critical knowledge of politics, social policy and social theory is vital to understanding their impacts upon families’ everyday lives. Accessibly written and assuming no prior understanding, it shows how key concepts, including vulnerability, risk, resilience, safeguarding and wellbeing are socially constructed.
Carefully designed to support learning, it provides students with clear guidance on how to use what they have read when writing academic assignments alongside questions designed to support the develop of critical thinking skills.
Covering issues from what the family is within a multicultural society, through issues around poverty, social mobility and life-chances, this book gives students an excellent grounding in matters relating to work with children and families. It features:
‘using this chapter’ sections showing how the content can be used in assignments;
tips on applying critical thinking to books and articles – and how to make use of such thinking in essays;
In a timely and innovative chapter, the author (a practising occupational therapist and Approved Mental Health Professional [AMHP]) acknowledges and responds to the structural barriers and professional boundaries relating to occupational therapists undertaking the AMHP role in England and Wales. Specific professional frames are presented and the suitability and convergence of occupational therapists’ practice and values as part of compulsory decision making are outlined. The case for occupational therapist AMHPs is made creatively and with profession-specific detail. The chapter sets out how occupational therapists can continue their health-enabler role into their AMHP practice in the ways in which they consider alternatives to hospital and promote people’s independence through their clinical reasoning, decision making and communication skills. The chapter raises awareness about occupational therapists’ values and skills and how they relate to human rights work in a mental health context; in so doing, it serves as a vehicle to promote the profession and inspire therapists to train in these roles and thereby improve AMHP recruitment.