Youth and disability

Growing up, getting out, getting on?

Authored by: Alan Roulstone

Routledge Handbook of Youth and Young Adulthood

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138804357
eBook ISBN: 9781315753058
Adobe ISBN: 9781317619895


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Until the 2000s, the issue of youth and disability had commonly been dealt with in two very much separate literatures. Youth and youth studies literature had until that point tended to assume a non-disabled, normate theoretical unit, albeit often with a core focus on other very real exclusions which intersect with disability exclusions – class, ethnicity, gender and sexuality (Coffield and Gofton, 1994; MacDonald, 1997; Willis, 1977). Meanwhile, disabled young people have until recently been the subject of a clinical or therapeutic gaze (Brisenden, 1986; Royal College of Physicians, 1986; Thomas et al., 1991) or have been framed within disability research as a separate social group subject to fractured transitions (Beresford, 2004; Wehman, 2006). Institutionalisation, special schooling, Young Disabled People’s Units, day centres and exclusions from transition services has helped cement this parallel set of experiences and sociological analyses (Barnes, 1991; Roulstone and Prideaux, 2012). The relative absence of disabled young people from the mainstream youth literature and from much of disability studies is in part explicable in terms of their absence from the core domains of transitions, education, employment and identity which feature in both (Côté, 2014; Wyn and Cahill, 2015).

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