Contesting Recognition: Culture, Identity and Citizenship by Janice McLaughlin, Peter Phillimore, Diane Richardson

By Janice McLaughlin, Peter Phillimore, Diane Richardson

This booklet explores the social and political importance of up to date attractiveness contests in components corresponding to incapacity, race and ethnicity, nationalism, type and sexuality, drawing on debts from Europe, america, Latin the USA, the center East and Australasia.

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In sociological theory as well, since its establishment, many writings have focused on the different ways people belong to collectivities and states, as well as on the social, economic and political effects of moments when such belongings are displaced as a result of industrialisation and/ or migration. Some classical examples are Ferdinand Tönnies’ (1940) distinction between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, Emile Durkheim’s (1997) categories of mechanical and organic solidarity, and Karl Marx’s (1975) notion of alienation.

The second, more subtly, is because a person’s own consciousness can Jackie Leach Scully 41 be infiltrated so that they no longer believe themselves to be capable of responsible action. When she writes that ‘freedom of agency requires not only certain capacities, competencies and intentions that lie within the individual, but also recognition on the part of others of who one is, morally speaking’ (2001: 24, original emphasis), Lindemann Nelson denotes, first, the limits to agency that accompany the internalisation of a version of identity that depletes a person’s subjectivity, and second, the effect of the kind of agency that others will allow someone with that identity to have, as when a child with an impairment is considered a waste of educational resources and denied access to schooling.

It seems only logical that the basic prerequisite for recognising a collective identity is that the group should exist in the first place, and the most controversy (and therefore some of the most interesting thinking) has centred on questions raised about claims to identity by groups that are unfamiliar and potentially more contested. 1 As well as raising awareness of the particular practical difficulties encountered by disabled people, the work of activists and theorists within the global disability movement has opened up a wider range of possible meanings of ‘disability’.

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