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Over the last thirty years, the field of disability studies has emerged from the political activism of disabled people. In this challenging review of the field, leading disability academic and activist Tom Shakespeare argues that the social model theory has reached a dead end.

Drawing on a critical realist perspective, Shakespeare promotes a pluralist, engaged and nuanced approach to disability. Key topics discussed include:

  • dichotomies - the dangerous polarizations of medical model versus social model, impairment versus disability and disabled people versus non-disabled people
  • identity - the drawbacks of the disability movement's emphasis on identity politics
  • bioethics in disability - choices at the beginning and end of life and in the field of genetic and stem cell therapies
  • care and social relationships - questions of intimacy and friendship.

This stimulating and accessible book challenges orthodoxies in British disability studies, promoting a new conceptualization of disability and fresh research agenda. It is an invaluable resource for researchers and students in disability studies and sociology, as well as professionals, policy makers and activists.

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