Postmodern synergistic knowledge creation: Extending the boundaries of disability studies

Ben Simmons*, Theo Blackmore, Phil Bayliss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
510 Downloads (Pure)


The tensions between the competing discourses of the medical and the social models of disability have traditionally provided a platform for discussion and research in the fields of disability studies and special needs education. Over the last 30 years a wealth of literature has consolidated the debate and produced particular knowledge of impairment and disability. In this paper we argue that by privileging notions of 'deficit' within these medical or social model perspectives the richness of the lived experience of people with impairments is denied. The individual becomes lost within a framework of medical symptoms or social inequalities. This paper considers alternative approaches which reveal a fuller picture of the lives of people with impairments. The authors conducted two separate empirical studies, one employing a Deleuzo-Guattarian perspective, the other a Bourdieusian perspective. In this paper we illustrate how these theories of practice can reveal situated understandings of the individual with impairments and his/her daily life. By embracing new understandings and different theoretical perspectives we show how new knowledge can emerge to illuminate the fluid and ever-changing notions of 'disability', 'inclusion' and 'exclusion', which form elements of the individual lived experience of the research participants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number906327373
Pages (from-to)733-745
Number of pages13
JournalDisability and Society
Issue number7
Early online date3 Dec 2008
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008


  • Deleuze
  • inclusion
  • profound and multiple learning difficulties
  • Bourdieu
  • post-modern
  • narratives


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