Disability and Employability: Professional Categorisations and Individual Experiences at the Boundaries of Disability

Abstract : This special issue is devoted to the idea that approaching disability from the periphery has a heuristic value that allows an improved understanding of just what the field of disability is. By paying attention to borderline situations, by examining cases where disability merges into other qualifications (validity, illness, poverty…), by positioning ourselves on the boundaries shaping the field of disability, we learn as much, if not more, about its core as we would by addressing the most typical figures of disability head-on. Using Ravaud, Letourmy and Ville’s image of the rosette, one might say that our approach is focused not on the centre of the flower where the overlapping criteria (official disability recognition, presence of everyday limitations, self-designation as disabled person, etc.) make situations conceptually obvious, but instead on the petals, where the various dimensions of disability disconnect. From this angle, the domain of employment and the issue of the recognition of “handicapped workers” provide particularly interesting material for analysis. The five contributions gathered in this issue thus address various borders of disability while sharing a common theme, the relationship to employment. The first two deal with the boundary between disability and illness; the first, (Jacques Rodriguez, “A course of treatment: Putting people with tuberculosis to work in England and France in the 1920s”), questions the place of work in the treatment of people suffering from tuberculosis in the early 20th century, when the category of disability was still only in its infancy but ripe for development in these early assemblies of sick people with irreversible physical effects (Ville, 2010); the second (Audrey Parron, “Autonomy issues for young adults dealing with psychic disorders”) focuses on mentally ill youths’ transition to adulthood, at the moment when the issues of their autonomy and a potential recognition of psychic disability, possible under French law since 2005, take urgency. The third contribution (Samuel Neuberg, “Poverty as a situation of disability: Social workers’ reticence to back Active Solidarity Income (RSA) beneficiaries’ requests for Disabled Adults Allowance (AAH)”) also deals with programs for gaining autonomy and support for finding employment, but in this case focusing on people receiving social assistance, on the border between disability and social marginality. Lastly, the final two contributions address disabled persons more explicitly, questioning the boundary between disabled workers and disabled persons. The first (Louis Bertrand, Vincent Caradec and Jean-Sébastien Eideliman, “Situating disability. The recognition of ‘handicapped workers’ in France”) deals with the relative weight of social situations and individual characteristics in the recognition of “handicapped workers” in the French setting, while the second (Trudie Knijn and Frits van Wel, “Better at work: Activation of partially disabled workers in the Netherlands”) addresses the effects of new policies for the recognition of partial occupational disability on individuals in the Netherlands.
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Article dans une revue
Alter: European Journal of Disability Research / Revue européenne de recherche sur le handicap, Elsevier Masson, 2014, 8 (4), 〈10.1016/j.alter.2014.09.002〉
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Louis Bertrand, Vincent Caradec, Jean-Sébastien Eideliman. Disability and Employability: Professional Categorisations and Individual Experiences at the Boundaries of Disability. Alter: European Journal of Disability Research / Revue européenne de recherche sur le handicap, Elsevier Masson, 2014, 8 (4), 〈10.1016/j.alter.2014.09.002〉. 〈hal-01241598〉

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