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Disability studies: A Nordic perspective
Rannveig Traustadottir, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Iceland and President of the Nordic Network on Disability Research
Many parallels can be found in the development of disability studies/disability research in the UK and the Nordic countries (Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden). There are, however, also significant differences, some of which have to do with fundamental aspects of disability studies, such as the different societal, cultural and political contexts of the UK and Nordic welfare states. Another significant variation is the different scholarly context of the theories and approaches informing this young discipline. This paper explores some of these similarities and differences. It examines the different ways 'disability studies' are defined in the UK and the Nordic countries and discusses the variation in theoretical approaches to understanding 'disability' and other key concepts. In the UK, the 'social model of disability' has played central and defining role in disability studies. In the Nordic countries, disability research has similarly been characterized by the development of social and environmental perspectives of disability. However, this has not taken the shape of one single model or understanding. Some of these different Nordic understandings of disability will be outlined along with a discussion of how they can contribute to disability studies.
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