Towards an Affirmation Model of Disability

John Swain, Sally French

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    395 Citations (Scopus)


    In this paper we argue that a new model of disability is emerging within the literature by disabled people and within disability culture, expressed most clearly by the Disability Arts Movement. For the purposes of discussion we call it the affirmative model. It is essentially a non-tragic view of disability and impairment which encompasses positive social identities, both individual and collective, for disabled people grounded in the benefits of lifestyle and life experience of being impaired and disabled. This view has arisen in direct opposition to the dominant personal tragedy model of disability and impairment, and builds on the liberatory imperative of the social model. Critiques of the latter have been consistently expressed as, or interpreted as, re-affirmations of personal tragedy, particularly in relation to impairment. In this analysis the affirmation model addresses the limitations of the social model through the realisation of positive identity encompassing impairment, as well as disability.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)569-582
    JournalDisability & Society
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2000


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