Critical Disability Theory

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Critical Disability Theory

A paper presented at the 4th Biennial Disability Studies Conference at Lancaster University, UK, Sept. 2-4, 2008

David L. Hosking*


Contents 1

Introduction 1

Critical Theory 2

Critical Legal Studies 3

Critical Disability Theory 5

Models of disability 6

Multidimensionality 8

Valuing diversity 10

Rights 12

Voice 12

Language 13

Transformative politics 14

A Jurisprudence of Disability 16

Conclusion 16


Critical disability theory (CDT) is an emerging theoretical framework for the study and analysis of disability issues. A jurisprudence of disability based on critical disability theory identifies with the legal realist tradition and builds on the Critical Legal Studies movement. In this paper, I outline my conception of critical disability theory as a theoretical basis for a jurisprudence of disability. The various components of CDT are often approached
*B.A. University of Saskatchewan (1972), LL.B. University of Saskatchewan (1976), LL.M. University of British Columbia (1992), LL.M. University of Victoria (2006); Doctoral candidate, Law, University of Leicester.
within an interdisciplinary ‘Disability Studies’ framework, but, by grounding CDT within the critical theory tradition, I adopt and incorporate particular philosophical approaches which derive from that tradition which are not necessarily encompassed within the idea of ‘Disability Studies’.

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