Can a disability studies-medical sociology rapprochement help re-value the work disabled people do within their rehabilitation?

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This paper draws attention to the health-related work that disabled people do when engaging with rehabilitation services. Medical sociology has a rich history of looking at the ‘illness work’ that patients do, while disability studies scholars have explored the cultural value placed upon paid work and the effects on social status of being unable to work. Yet, a longstanding froideur between these two disciplines, which have fundamentally opposed ontologies of illness and disability, means that neither discipline has attended closely to the rehabilitation-related work that disabled people do. The concept of ‘adjusting’ to illness highlights seemingly irreconcilable disciplinary differences. Yet this article argues that the notion of ‘adjustment work’ can elucidate the socio-political character of the work disabled people do in their rehabilitation, which could create a more substantial and sustainable dialogue on this subject between disability studies and medical sociology. To make this case, we discuss interview data from the Rights-based Rehabilitation project, which sought to explore disabled people’s lived experiences of rehabilitation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1300-1316
Number of pages17
JournalSociology of Health & Illness
Issue number6
Early online date13 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

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