Empowerment through co-operation: disability inclusion via multi-stakeholder co-operative development
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The disability community is one of the largest minority groups vulnerable to social exclusion and marginalization, too often forced into poverty, unemployment and social isolation through dependence on the state. This is the result of systemic discrimination, and is being challenged by the social model of disability which frames disability as a political creation: it proposes that barriers, prejudice, and exclusion created by society (purposely or inadvertently) are the ultimate factors defining disability. The social model empowers people with disabilities to dismantle barriers so they have choice, flexibility, and control to gain the dignity, autonomy, equality, and solidarity associated with human rights and citizenship, and calls for research that takes an emancipatory approach and has a political commitment to confront oppression and exclusion. This interdisciplinary Master’s thesis looks at the ways co-operatives can be vehicles for inclusion and empowerment for the disability community. It looks particularly at the multi-stakeholder model of co-operative, which is especially promising for the empowerment of the disability community as it brings together different member categories in an appropriate form of interdependence. My research uses case study methodology to explore how socially constructed barriers are the impairment to development in the disability community and to identify successes where informal multi-stakeholder co-operatives have been used to empower people with disabilities through analysis on four dimensions: how consumer-controlled the co-op is, use of multi-stakeholder alliances, promotion of the social model of disability, and ability to promote economic inclusion and social solidarity. The disability community needs new opportunities for empowerment and community development to overcome disadvantage and marginalization, and this thesis explores the potential of multi-stakeholder co-operatives, vis-à-vis the social model of disability, to do this. This research will help shape policies needed to foster social inclusion to empower people with disabilities and build disability solidarity through co-operative development.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
SupervisorJames-Cavan, Kathleen; Fairbairn, Brett
CommitteeHammond Ketilson, Lou; Gertler, Michael; Clarke, Louise; Surtees, Doug
Copyright DateAugust 2010
social model of disability