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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.
At the beginning of February 2020, the first cases of COVID-19 infection were detected in Israel. As the number of confirmed patients increased, movement and activity restrictions were imposed on the public. While stopping the spread of the virus and almost eradicating the pandemic, the results were short-lived. The reappearance of the pandemic revealed not only the fragility of the human body but also exposed a weakening of solidarity in Israeli society. This chapter describes the weakening of the value of solidarity in Israeli society as it manifested during the pandemic. The authors claim that this phenomenon played an important role in deepening existing social inequalities. It is suggested that while the refusal to carry the costs required to stop the spreading of the pandemic affected the entire population, it had a greater impact on disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors (for example, the elderly, the disabled, low socioeconomic status individuals, women and victims of domestic violence), thus exacerbating social inequalities. The aim of this chapter is to examine the role of the Israeli law governance in responding to the pandemic by looking into and scrutinizing the protocols of meetings of various committees in the Israeli parliament that discussed the public health restrictions.
In March 2020, the government introduced a set of restrictions to ‘lockdown’ the United Kingdom in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the central purpose of which was to protect public health by both containing the rate of infection and protecting the NHS’ capacity to treat a potential influx of patients. These rules represented a profound interference with everyday life, but it was clear that this interference was experienced differently throughout the population. In this chapter, the authors draw upon an extensive dataset – constituted of national surveys, focus groups, and interviews – gathered during the first wave of the virus in the UK to provide an analysis of how this was experienced by women. The authors test the hypothesis that it may be that women are more likely to find certain rules that interfere with prior caring responsibilities more challenging than others, and argue that research examining compliance to individual rules might better highlight gender differences in compliance than overall compliance.
It is a trite observation to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way billions of people live their daily lives. There has been an escalation of government interference in the mundane experiences of day-to-day existence. This has included limitations on travel, mask mandates and social distancing, and, of course, ‘lockdowns’. These restrictions have been criticized for the economic harm they have caused, but perhaps the more salient objection, at least for a political philosopher, is the claim that COVID-19 restrictions undermine personal liberty, freedom and individual autonomy. This seems to be the public rallying cry for many of those opposed to the restrictions, including public figures like Lord Sumption. There is a glimmer of truth in this claim, but the problem is misrepresented. The real issue is not with COVID-19 restrictions in themselves but that they are arbitrarily formulated and liable to partial enforcement. This reveals that the problem is not just one of liberty but of equality. This chapter examines and revises the liberty objection within the theory of libertarianism to make it more attuned to the problem of arbitrary power and inequality.