Disability Studies and Interdisciplinarity: Interregnum or Productive Interruption?

  • Julie AllanEmail author
Part of the Critical Studies of Education book series (CSOE, volume 12)


This paper considers the positioning of disability studies, by its own exponents and others, as a discipline in its own right and in relation to other disciplines. It draws on Taylor’s (2006) historical analysis of the development of disability studies and disability studies in education, which demonstrates how the early critiques of labelling, stigmatisation and the medicalization of deviance have formed the basis of what we know as disability studies today. Taylor’s ethnographic analysis of a family’s encounters with disability, an exemplar of disability studies, is also examined.


Positionality Labelling Stigmatisation Medicalization Ethnography of exclusion 


  1. Arendt, H. (1958). The human condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  2. Arendt, H. (2006). Between past and future: Eight exercises in political thought. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  3. Barton, L., & Clough, P. (1995). Conclusion: Many urgent voices. In P. Clough & L. Barton (Eds.), Making difficulties: Research and the construction of SEN. London: Paul Chapman.Google Scholar
  4. Becker, H. (1963). Outsiders: Studies in the sociology of deviance. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bogdan, R., & Taylor, S. J. (1976). The judged, not the judges: An insider’s view of mental retardation. American Psychologist, 31(1), 47–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bogdan, S., & Taylor, S. J. (1989). Relationships with severely disabled people: The social construction of humanness. Social Problems, 36(1), 135–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brantlinger, E. (1997). Using ideology: Cases of nonrecognition of the politics of research and practice in special education. Review of Educational Research, 67(4), 425–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chowdry, G. (2007). Edward Said and contrapuntal reading: Implications for critical interventions in international relations. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 36(1), 101–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Connor, D. (2013). Risk-taker, role model, muse, and “charlatan”: Stories of Ellen—an atypical giant. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17(12), 1229–1240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Connor, D. J., Gabel, S., Gallagher, D., & Morton, M. (2008). Disability studies and inclusive education: Implications for theory, research, and practice. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 12(5–6), 441–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Critchley, J. (2007). Infinitely demanding: Ethics of commitment, politics of resistance. London. New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  12. Danforth, S., & Morris, P. (2006). Orthodoxy, heresy, and the inclusion of American students considered to have emotional/behavioral disorders. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 10(2–3), 135–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Davis, L. (2013). The end of normal: Identity in a biocultural era. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  14. Dunn, L. M. (1968). Special education for the mildly retarded: Is much of it justifiable? Exceptional Children, 35(1), 5–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ferri, B. (2008). Doing a (dis)service: Reimagining special education from a disability studies perspective. In W. Ayers, T. Quinn, & D. Stovall (Eds.), The handbook of social justice in education. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  16. Foucault, M. (1988). Politics, philosophy, culture: Interviews and other writings 1972–1977. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Fujiura, G. (2015). Steven J. Taylor: In memoriam. Intellectual and Development Disabilities, 53(1), 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gallagher, D. (1998). The scientific knowledge base of special education: Do we know what we think we know? Exceptional Children, 64(4), 294–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Goffman, E. (1961). Asylums: Notes on the management of a spoiled identity. Boston: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  20. Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  21. Goodley, D. (2014a). Dis/entangling critical disability studies. Disability & Society, 28(5), 631–644.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Goodley, D. (2014b). Dis/ability studies: Theorising disablism and ableism. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hacking, I. (2008). The complacent disciplinarian. Interdisciplines.
  24. Hacking, I. (2010). Autism fiction: A mirror of an internet decade. University of Toronto Quarterly, 79(2), 632–655.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hartley, D. (2009). Education policy and the “inter”–regnum. In J. Forbes & C. Watson (Eds.), Service integration in schools. Rotterdam: Sense.Google Scholar
  26. Kauffman, J. M. (2015). The “B” in EBD is not just for bullying. Journal of Research in Special Education, 15(3), 157–165.Google Scholar
  27. Kavale, K. A., & Forness, S. R. (2000). History, rhetoric, and reality: Analysis of the inclusion debate. Remedial and Special Education, 21(5), 279–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lash, S. (2001). Technological forms of life. Theory, Culture and Society, 18(1), 105–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Latour, B. (2004). Why has critique run out of steam? From matters of fact to matters of concern. Critical Inquiry, 30, 225–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Linton, S. (1998a). Disability studies/not disability studies. Disability & Society, 13(4), 525–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Linton, S. (1998b). Claiming disability: Knowledge and identity. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Linton, S. (2009). Press release: Acts of conscience: World War II, mental institutions and religious conscientious objectors.
  33. Mercer, J. R. (1965). Social system perspective and clinical perspective: Frames of reference for understanding career patterns of persons labeled as mentally retarded. Social Problems, 13(1), 18–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nussbaum, M. (2006). Disability, nationality, species membership. The Tanner human values lectures. Cambridge, MA; London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Oliver, M. (2007). Contribution to review symposium (untitled). Disability and Society, 22(2), 230–234.Google Scholar
  36. Rancière, J. (2008). Jacques Rancière and indisciplinarity: An interview. Art and Research, 2(1), 1–10.Google Scholar
  37. Said, E. (1993). Culture and imperialism. New York: Alfred Knopf.Google Scholar
  38. Said, E. (1995). On defiance and taking positions. American Council of Learned Societies. Occasional Paper No. 31. Retrieved from
  39. Said, E. (1999). Out of place: A memoir. New York: Alfred Knopf.Google Scholar
  40. Said, E. (2000). An interview with Edward Said. In M. Bayami & A. Rubin (Eds.), The Edward Said Reader (pp. 419–444). New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  41. Salusinszky, I. (1987). Critiques in society. New York: Methuen.Google Scholar
  42. Scheff, T. J. (1966). Being mentally ill: A sociological theory. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  43. Scott, R. A. (1969). The making of blind men: A study of adult socialization. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  44. Shakespeare, T. (2006). Disability rights and wrongs. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Symes, C. (2006). The paradox of the canon: Edward W. Said and musical transgression. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 27(3), 309–324.Google Scholar
  46. Taylor, S. J. (2000). “You’re not a retard, you’re just wise”: Disability, social identity, and family networks. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 29(1), 58–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Taylor, S. J. (2006). Before it had a name: Exploring the historical roots of disability studies in education. In S. Danforth & S. Gabel (Eds.), Vital questions facing disability studies in education. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  48. Taylor, S. J. (2009). Acts of conscience: World War II, mental institutions and religious conscientious objectors. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Taylor, S. J. (2011). Disability studies in higher education. New Directions for Higher Education, 2011(154), 93–98.
  50. Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation. (1975). Fundamental principles of disability. Leeds University Disability Studies Archive.
  51. Vehmas, S., & Watson, N. (2014). Moral wrongs, disadvantages and disability: A critique of critical disability studies. Disability & Society, 29(4), 638–650.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Ware, L. (2001). Writing, identity and the other: Dare we do disability studies? Journal of Teacher Education, 52(2), 107–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Ware, L., & Valle, J. (2009). Disability studies as the default paradigm? In S. R. Steinberg (Ed.), 19 urban questions: Teaching in the City (pp. 113–130). New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  54. Zola, I. K. (2003). Missing pieces: A chronicle of living with a disability. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BirminghamBirminghamUK

Personalised recommendations