Publications Index | Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’s Internet Archive

Socialist Review Index (1993–1996) | Socialist Review 184 Contents

Becky Shtasel


Disabling society


From Socialist Review, No. 184, March 1995
Copyright © Socialist Review.
Copied with thanks from the Socialist Review Archive.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


I think a useful adjunct to the issues Pat Stack raised in his article on disability rights (February SR) is the theory of the social model of disability which is current in the disability movement.

This theory states that disability itself is not the problem for most disabled people; it is the way that society is structured that makes disability so disabling. Hence, my disability virtually disappears when buildings and the underground have lifts, buses wait until I sit down, kerbs are dropped, non-competitive games are played at school, people do not stare at the way I walk. These are some of the things which make being disabled oppressive for me.

I have worked in the disability field for a number of years and I have very rarely heard from disabled people a complaint about their disability. Instead, what people find disabling is their poverty and isolation and the attitudes of other people who think they are ugly,frightening or funny because their bodies work differently.

Fighting for a society where it does not matter what your body can or cannot do will benefit everyone. We all suffer from a society which discards those people who look different, who find their environment inaccessible, and who do not appear economically viable. A fight for disability rights is a fight for the rights of elderly people, of people with children, of everyone who does not fit in with the economics of the capitalist system.


Becky Shtasel

Socialist Review Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 28 December 2017