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Agency in the twenty-first century: the emperor’s new clothes

Publication of Innovations in Care
S.R. Hilberink, M. Cardol, | Article | Publication date: 13 May 2013
Ideas about people with disabilities have evolved dramatically since the 1950s – from individuals ‘suffering from illness’ and dependent on others, to today’s credo stressing participation and social inclusion. People with a disability are considered to have capacities and bear responsibility to achieve active citizenship, which is positive in that a person’s capacities are addressed rather than their limitations. The focus on capacities stems from the Independent Living Movement that originated in the 1960s in the USA, advocating self-determination, self-respect and equal opportunities for people with disabilities. They demanded equal access to both the public domain and they requested assistance to enable their participation. As such, their early effort was to strive for agency. This article will explore changing and competing constructions of agency, participation and citizenship.

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