Disability Policy and UK Political Parties: Absent, present or absent-present citizens?

Evans, Elizabeth. 2023. Disability Policy and UK Political Parties: Absent, present or absent-present citizens? Disability & Society, 38(10), pp. 1743-1762. ISSN 0968-7599 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In his study of disability and policy making in Canada, Michael Prince conceptualised the idea of ‘absent citizens’ to describe how people with disabilities were marginalised in the political process and disability policy treated in a piecemeal fashion. This article examines whether disabled people in the UK also constitute absent citizens by analysing the election manifestos produced by the two main parties over the past decade. The research finds an asymmetry in the parties’ attention to disability policy from 2017 onwards when disabled people were present as part of the wider critique of the Conservative’s austerity agenda. Conversely, disabled people constituted a sort absent-presence for the Conservatives, as they were subjected to policies which disproportionately affected them, yet this was not made explicit. Finally, there is evidence to suggest a similar piecemeal approach to disability policy, but it would be difficult to frame disabled people as totally absent citizens.

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Funding: ISRF


Disability; UK politics; party manifestos; ableism

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17 February 2022Accepted
1 March 2022Published Online

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Date Deposited:

18 Feb 2022 12:12

Last Modified:

01 Nov 2023 14:22

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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