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Methodologies for the Study of the Disabled

June 15, 2009

I have been refining the methodology for my long-term critical sociology project. The following paragraphs, taken from my methodology paper, are particularly relevant in detailing some of the methodologies utilized in the study of disabilities, including Autism. See the full paper for more information, including extensive quotations.

The term, emancipatory research, was coined by Mike Oliver in 1992. The construct has been particularly influential upon the social model of disability. As a radical approach, it frames the basic methodology of this project. Oliver, in addition to being both an author and a disability rights activist, is Emeritus Professor of Disability Studies at the University of Greenwich. Emancipatory methodologies tend to adopt a stance which is simultaneously critical of normative research methodologies and concerned with exploring the experiences of oppressed persons, such as the disabled, in their own voices.

Emancipatory research may be distinguished from lifeworld research. The latter is grounded in phenomenology and, as such, incorporates the usual Husserlian categories, such as epoché and intersubjectivity. The objective of the researcher is, through a bracketing of her intentionality, to enter into the lifeworlds of disabled persons. As a nominalist, phenomenological reduction impresses me as both metaphysical (speculative) and essentialist. Indeed, I question whether such phenomenological reduction is even possible or desirable. Nonetheless, I have tried to be sensitive to this mode of inquiry where suitable.

Emancipatory research may also be differentiated from empowerment research. I have been unable to locate a consistent definition, but empowerment research appears to be associated with notions of wellness and personal responsibility. Most of the relevant literature I have found comes out of the fields of community healthcare and community psychology. Anecdotally, I may have experienced an implementation of this methodology. A hospital seminar I attended, after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, had many of the characteristics I came across in my reading.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 16, 2009 8:13 pm

    I just thought that you may be interested in, a blog aggregator for theory and philosophy. It’s how I came across your post.


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