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STUDIJE I OGLEDI

THE IDEOLOGY OF WORK AND THE LIMITS OF ITS EMANCIPATORY POTENTIAL IN THE LIVES OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN EASTERN EUROPEAN: A COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE

Sažetak

There is no doubt that paid employment can be effective at tack­ling poverty among people with disabilities. The right to work that was long denied to people with disabilities is one of the largest achieve­ments of the disability people’s movement across the world. At the same time the chapter has argued that neoliberalism dominates contem­porary disability discourse and that notions of ‘dependency’ and ‘care’ have been partially replaced by the ideology of work, where every adult person is made into an income earner. Given that hegemonic workfare discourses claim that jobs for persons with disabilities contribute to in­dependent wage earning and an enhanced self-image, research must in­terrogate the well-being and satisfaction of people with disabilities with their employment. How much does work really affect people’s lives? How much do people with disabilities earn, how are the earnings spent, how many friends did they make, how assertive have they become and how many of them have really moved from welfare to general employ­ment? Posing these questions will help to breach the symbolic and actual divisions between the ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ and will bring us closer to understanding that there are different ways of experiencing the world in line with different embodiments and social positioning. The mystification of work the promise of economic security and a good life for those who produce versus the reality of low-paid, repetitive, unsatisfying and sometimes unpaid work needs to be addressed by criti­cal researchers and welfare professionals. Today’s policies and schemes for mainstreaming employment in Eastern European countries are too often just another way of drawing a line between the normal and abnormal since their entire discourses are based on the idea that people with disabilities should be steered into welfare employment rather than broader goals of self-determination and independent living. There is little interest in whether these types of work and “rehabilitation” really improve the everyday lives of indi­ viduals. Instead of looking at different types of discrimination, many professionals working with persons with impairments propagate this ideology of work rather than challenging the medical and rehabilita­tion model of disability. The latter may provide job opportunities, but it relies predominantly on semi-segregated and precarious work places and occupational activities, thus turning discussion away from human rights, diversity and an understanding of disability as a particular ele­ment of humanity.

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PERIODIKA Socijalna politika 1/2013 УДК 342.734:364.4-056.26(4-11) 79-100
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