Seminar 1 Proceedings Final discussion

FINAL DISCUSSION (from notes by Chris Philo)

  • In our ‘rethinking’ … have we still not unthought enough? … do we really need more unthinking (before the rethinking can begin?)
  • If we are going to rethink LD, it should not be a matter of simply rethinking institutions, but of challenging the institutions that ‘deploy’ LD?
  • Do we need to re-prioritise a notion of caring for another person, repositioning caring as a ‘political’ activity – better than another ‘fisticuffs’ about institutions (good, bad, indifferent, etc.), potentially much more inspiring
  • Caring as something that accepts the dependency of the cared-for person, hence questioning the obsession with independency in much current LD policy rhetoric – but which also needs to be revisioned as something demeaning of the cared-for, in that the latter are not only dependent – and in some cases PWLD may also be not just the recipients of care, but also the givers of care.  Hence, might not co-dependency be a more progressive notion to explore?
  • Need to get beyond an ‘audit culture’ in LD (and other) policy, to appreciate the vital/vibrant dynamics and details of caring relationships in practice, shifting beyond the conceptual/cognitive bases of care to registering its complex affective dimensions
  • Remind ourselves of the importance of context: the where and the when of where (un)caring relationships are played out – it makes a huge difference to what might be envisaged as progressive policies and practices
  • More broadly, inclusion has to be conceived in this relational and contextual fashion – it is contingent, played out in different ways in different contexts – linking in with what does it mean to be/to feel ‘included’ in this place, here and now (the affective dimensions)
  • And inclusion also needs to be configured as inclusion of PWLD with other PWLD, as well as in the more macro-sociological sense of including PWLD with the (non-disabled) wider population/community
  • Also, consider all manner of social roles and responsibilities that could be offered, performed and met by PWLD – within this frame of ‘purposeful living’, which takes a rather different cut at the problematic of inclusion – particularly if PWLD are not then configured as ‘clients’
  • Hesitation is needed about the utility of the ‘rights’ discourse: for instance, ‘the right to a job’ is a common refrain in certain LD discourses, but do the rest of ‘us’ have a right to a job? – seemingly not in an age of austerity? – and what does such a critical perspective have to say back to AJ’s claims about PWLD having ‘the right to a purposeful life’ (again, is this really regarded as an universal right within contemporary Western society: do any of ‘us’ have the right to claim such a right?)
  • Danger of this critical thinking, of course, is that it might be twisted back by governments to say, ‘fine, let the PWLD be unemployed’, and then indeed they can be the same as you!
  • Who are the ‘academics’ who can now provide an input to government / to national and regional LD policy? – and who can take a critical perspective on the extreme ‘individualisation’ of much ‘neo-liberal’ and ‘consumerist’ frameworks now hegemonic in much LD policy, and still be taken seriously? – what are ‘we’ not allowed to say?
  • ‘We’ must remain hopeful – universities where LD research takes place can still create positive change, lead policy, fuel things happening differently
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