Disability studies as ethnographic research and text: can we represent cultural diversity whilst promoting social change?

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This paper problematises the notion of research production within disability studies by comparing literature on emancipatory research with concepts of re�flexivity, authority and empowerment employed within ethnographic research. It critically examines a number of proposals within disability studies on how researchers can stimulate or contribute to processes which improve their respondents life conditions. A variety of strategies for change are discussed within the context of how ethnographers do Žfieldwork, and write up and disseminate their findings. This discussion also questions the role of the researcher and respondent as ‘expert’, suggesting that ethnographers should not privilege their own perspectives over that of respondents. It is concluded that the variety of research strategies and roles outlined in this paper need not be mutually exclusive and therefore, that there are a number of different yet complementary ways in which researchers can contribute to the conditions within which self-emancipation � flourishes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-206
Number of pages16
JournalDisability and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • disability studies
  • ethnographic research
  • researchers
  • respondents

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