Revisiting the foundations of (critical) disability studies: Manifesto for an inclusive social model

Document Type

Book Chapter


Taylor & Francis

Place of Publication

London, England


Ellis, K., Garland-Thomson, R., Kent, M., & Robertson, R.


School of Arts and Humanities


Boxall, K., (2018). Revisiting the foundations of (critical) disability studies. In Manifestos for the future of critical disability studies, Volume 1. London, England: Routledge.

Book Available here.


This chapter explores the historical foundations of British disability studies, arguing that social model ideas developed in the 1970s continue to be of relevance today. The chapter begins with a note on terminology before outlining the origins and development of disability studies and, in particular, the social model of disability in the UK. From the outset, social model ideas were widely endorsed by wheelchair users and people with physical impairments, but were less enthusiastically received by people with other impairments, some of whose experiences were missing from early social model discussion. In recent years, discussion has been expanded to include people with a wider range of impairments and some of these more inclusive and nuanced discussions are now situated under a banner of critical disability studies. This chapter aims to explore disability studies and critical disability studies, identifying key aspects of both approaches. Drawing on the experiences of people with learning difficulties and mental health service users/survivors, the chapter goes on to present a counter critique to critical disability studies in the form of a manifesto for an inclusive social model.

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