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Civic LaborsScholar Activism and Working-Class Studies$
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Dennis Deslippe, Eric Fure-Slocum, and John W. Mckerley

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040498

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040498.001.0001

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Disability and Labor Activism

Disability and Labor Activism

The Pains and Joys of Coalitions

Chapter:
(p.237) Chapter 15 Disability and Labor Activism
Source:
Civic Labors
Author(s):

Kim E. Nielsen

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252040498.003.0019

This chapter examines the difficulties that disability and labor activists have faced when working together. Disability and labor activists, today as well as in the past, have much in common. They share the goal of securing fair wage employment for all people. They also want to see safe workplaces created and maintained for all. Despite these common goals, the two camps—disability activists and scholars on the one hand, and labor activists and scholars on the other—differ profoundly in their understanding of disability. While both groups are interested in ensuring workplace safety for all laborers, the chapter notes that labor activists' emphasis on disability as a tragedy to be eliminated can be alienating for disability activists who do not see their lives as tragic. It argues that, despite the difference in conceptions of disability, scholars and labor and disability activists have much to learn from each other. Scholars of disability studies can help articulate new understandings that can ground more effective activist collaborations through engaged scholarship and activism.

Keywords:   disability activists, labor activists, disability, workplace safety, labor, collaboration, engaged scholarship, activism, disability studies

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