The Affirmation Model: A new tool for making sense of everyday life

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Abstract

in The Politics of Difference (1990) Iris Young argued that oppression is experienced in the flow of everyday life, encountered by the devalued in interactions with well-intentioned ‘normal’ folk going about their ordinary, respectable business. It is not, Young contends, that ‘normal’ folk think of themselves as oppressors, but that all the same these interactions involve something of benefit to them - a perceived pay-off to their own advantage in measuring themselves against those they identify as deficient. The affirmation model distinguishes between impairment, regarded as ‘physical, sensory, emotional and cognitive difference to be expected and respected on its own terms in a diverse society’ and disability, identified as ‘a personal and social role that simultaneously invalidates the subject position of people with impairments and validates the subject position of those identified as normal’ (Cameron, 2011). In this paper I want to suggest that while the social model has given us much, in that it has allowed us to understand disability as a restrictive relationship (it is about what disabled people are prevented from doing and being), the affirmation model provides us with another useful tool, revealing disability as a productive relationship (it is about what disabled people are required to do and be instead). While Fran Martin has observed that ‘we are not trained to think of the repetitive activities and apparently banal objects that make up our experience in an intellectual way’ (2003:1), it is precisely within these that relationships of normality/abnormality are constructed and normality is established as the ideal. The affirmation model, I propose, offers us a framework with which to problematise the assumptions underpinning these relationships. Its value is that it allows us to make affirming sense of what is going on in disabling encounters, and to place our own transgressive meaning upon such encounters.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2012
EventTheorizing Normalcy and the Mundane: 3rd International Conference - Chester University
Duration: 26 Jun 2012 → …

Conference

ConferenceTheorizing Normalcy and the Mundane: 3rd International Conference
Period26/06/12 → …

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