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The geographies of disability and a re-evaluation of the social relations of research production

Claire Edwards, University of Cork
Co-author(s): Rob Imrie


Oliver's (1992) paper about the social relations of research and disability suggested that research had done little to change in any significant way the lives of disabled people. His critiques of academic research was part of a broader awareness of how research subjects often become part of the objectivist gaze of experts and, in the process, are drawn into exploitative relationships. Disabled people, in this view, are passive victims, or 'psychological dopes' that feed into the academic production line. Reflecting on 15 years or so of research with/of disabled people, we seek to counter some of the views of Oliver and others and, in doing so, offer an analysis that stresses the positive roles of the academe, the importance of experts and expertism, and the roles and responsibilities that research subjects ought to assume and exercise in the process of research production.

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