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Dis/ability and austerity: beyond work and slow death

Dis/ability and austerity: beyond work and slow death promoting access to White Rose research papers Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/ This is a copy of the final published version of a paper published via gold open access in Disability and Society. This open access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. White Rose Research Online URL for this paper: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/81046 Published paper Goodley, D., Lawthom, R. and Runswick-Cole, K. (2014) Dis/ability and austerity: Beyond work and slow death. Disability and Society, 29 (6). 980 - 984. Doi: 10.1080/09687599.2014.920125 White Rose Research Online eprints@whiterose.ac.uk This article was downloaded by: [University of Sheffield] On: 26 February 2015, At: 07:04 Publisher: Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Disability & Society Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cdso20 Dis/ability and austerity: beyond work and slow death a b b Dan Goodley , Rebecca Lawthom & Katherine Runswick-Cole School of Education, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK Department of Psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK Published online: 06 Jun 2014. Click for updates To cite this article: Dan Goodley, Rebecca Lawthom & Katherine Runswick-Cole (2014) Dis/ ability and austerity: beyond work and slow death, Disability & Society, 29:6, 980-984, DOI: 10.1080/09687599.2014.920125 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2014.920125 PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the “Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Versions of published Taylor & Francis and Routledge Open articles and Taylor & Francis and Routledge Open Select articles posted to institutional or subject repositories or any other third-party website are without warranty from Taylor & Francis of any kind, either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement. Any opinions and views expressed in this article are the opinions and views of the authors, and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor & Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of the Content. This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms- and-conditions It is essential that you check the license status of any given Open and Open Select article to confirm conditions of access and use. Downloaded by [University of Sheffield] at 07:04 26 February 2015 Disability & Society, 2014 Vol. 29, No. 6, 980–984, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2014.920125 CURRENT ISSUES a b b Dan Goodley *, Rebecca Lawthom and Katherine Runswick-Cole a b School of Education, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK; Department of Psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK (Received 15 April 2014; final version received 17 April 2014) The forthcoming book Dis/ability Studies: Theorising Disablism and Ableism argues that we are living in an historical epoch which might be described as neoliberal-ableism, in which we are all subjected to slow death, increased preca- rity and growing debility. In this paper we apply this analysis to a consideration of austerity with further reference to disability studies and politics. Keywords: disability; austerity; slow death; neoliberal-ableism Austerity By 2008 the world knew: the reckless nature of capitalism had led to economic meltdown. We had simply spent and borrowed too much. To overcome this we were, and still are, expected to ‘make do and mend’ (Tosh 2013). Rather than contest the system (capitalism), we should, well, work it more responsibly – be more prudent in our spending and more committed in our labour. We are, of course, ‘all in this together’, so the British Chancellor told us, and his government remains committed to ‘the makers, doers and savers’. Indeed, it would appear that we are all equal, although some are more equal than others. This is evidenced by the impact of auster- ity measures in Britain since the 2010 emergency budget. In 2012 the Disability in Austerity Study led by Demos estimated losses of £2000–3000 (in families’ house- hold income) over the course of the current parliament, with disabled people losing £9 billion in welfare support and one-third losing their Disability Living Allowance (Wood 2012). This had resulted in disabled people and their families experiencing: An ever-diminishing level of civic and social engagement – our households are becoming socially more isolated, and reducing the amount of activities they engage in – from essen- tials such as work and medical appointments to ‘luxuries’ such as volunteering and train- ing. This is at odds with the Government’s vision of stronger and active communities. Retrenchment of services – both statutory services and third sector services are being cut, leaving disabled people with nowhere else to turn. The concept of the safety net no longer resonates with people experiencing serious crises before help is provided. Declining mental health – our households are increasingly experiencing anxiety, depres- sion and fear for the future, with some relying on increased medication. (Wood 2012:7) This experience is nowhere more evident than today in the midst of neoliberal capitalism. Soldatic and Chapman (2010) depict this as a time of flexibility, *Corresponding author. Email: d.goodley@sheffield.ac.uk © 2014 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecom mons.org/licenses/by/3.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted. Downloaded by [University of Sheffield] at 07:04 26 February 2015 Disability & Society 981 casualisation, work readiness and productivity. The rationality of market rule, they say, demands an adaptable worker; albeit one caught up in the insecurities associated with the global economy and the winding back of welfare benefits and entitlements. For Cooley (2011), while at the beginnings of neoliberalism there was talk of free enterprise, the ‘American way’ and working for one’s family, latter iterations of neo- liberal discourse would suggest we are entering a cultural epoch where such a vision of human development automatically inducts each and everyone into what Jakobsen (2009, 224) describes as ‘a relational structure that provides for privatised resource- provision’. The way we would like to think of this relational structure is as follows: neoliberalism provides an ecosystem for the nourishment of ableism, which we can define as neoliberal-ableism. We are all expected to overcome economic downturn and respond to austerity through adhering to ableism’s ideals, its narrow conceptions of personhood, its arrogance and its propensity to buddy-up with other fascistic ide- ologies that celebrate the minority over the majority means that it is a world-view, an ontology and a methodology for the making human-kinds that will eventually, if left unchallenged, bulldoze the disparate variegated nature of human kind (Goodley 2014). A key principle of ‘body management within neoliberalism’, as Mitchell observes, is that: those who don’t adequately maintain their bodies are held personally responsible for their descent into the chaos of ill health and non-well-being profiting from the misfortunes of another; a parasitism of privilege allowed only to those who embody the normative capacities of neoliberal identities. (Mitchell 2014,3) ‘The truth is that all this work is debilitating’ (Puar 2012). Labour/slow death Work, for Lauren Berlant (2007, 2010, 2011), is best epitomised as a practice of slow death, a concept that refers to the physical wearing out of a population and the deterioration of people in that population, which is very nearly a defining condition of their experience and historical existence. We are, she suggests, exhausted by neo- liberal capitalism: we are all in slow death, but for some this is more apparent. This includes: the bodies of US waged workers will be more fatigued, in more pain, less capable of ordinary breathing and working, and die earlier than the average for higher-income workers, who are also getting fatter, but at a slower rate and with relatively more opportunity for exercise. (Berlant 2007, 775) To this collective we would add disabled people and many of their close allies. Neoliberal-ableism displays, to borrow the words of Robert McRuer (2012c), a ‘spe- cial genius’ at making lopsided growth, wealth for a few, and immiseration for many more, seem sexy, and – well – progressive and modern. Disabled people have to become, in the words of David Mitchell (2014), ‘able-disabled’; or, as Goodley (2014) notes, disabled people have to embrace able- ism to overcome their disabling conditions; or as Goodley and Runswick-Cole (in press) have argued, individuals need to embolden the ability side of the dis/ability complex in order to survive, hopefully thrive, but definitely make do and mend. This is what Mitchell (2014) and McRuer (2012a, 2012b) have in mind around neoliberal tolerance: Downloaded by [University of Sheffield] at 07:04 26 February 2015 982 D. Goodley et al. (1) if you are prepared to work hard then you are in; (2) don’t forget now: we are all in this together as workers and consumers; and (3) in these austere times we will get ourselves ‘back on our feet’– work will set us free. Crip alternatives (slowing the death down) The politics of disability permit us to think again (and differently) about living through (and being recognised by) neoliberal-ableism. Here are two thoughts. Firstly, why all this talk of austerity when we should be talking about poverty? In Britain the ‘bedroom tax’, the recent reduction of Disabled Student Allowance, and the reduction of numbers judged to be disabled (and therefore eligible to welfare benefits) put disabled people yet again amongst the poorest of the poor. If labour is slow death, living as a disabled person in 2014 might mean a quick one: A disabled man died penniless when he lost his benefits after being judged fit to work – despite being so ill doctors said he needed a new heart. Robert Barlow died last November aged 47 while suffering from a heart defect and brain tumour. The classi- cally trained pianist – who worked for years as a microbiologist in Cambridge – was deemed fit to work by benefits assessors Atos, even though doctors at the time urged him to have a heart transplant. He passed away less than two years later. Now Mr Barlow’s Cambridge family and Labour MP Luciana Berger want the Govern- ment to learn lessons from this tragic case. His aunt Joan Westland, 85, of Cherry Hinton, said: ‘I don’t know how they expected him to work. Nobody would have loved to work more than him, but he simply couldn’t.’ It is absolutely essential that we consider the ways in which poverty and disability are once again being cast together as inseparable categories. Disabled People Against the Cuts remind us that freedom can rarely be found in capitalism. Disability politics lead the way, yet again, in thinking about alternatives to neoliberal-ableist capitalism. Secondly, what alternatives does disability offer to the slow death of neoliberal- ableism and false promises of austerity? For David Mitchell (2014,1–2): ‘disability subjectivities create new forms of embodied knowledge and collective conscious- ness. Queer and disabled people’s interdependencies provide alternative ethical maps for living together outside of, even in opposition to, the dictates of normalcy’. This resonates with stories emerging from our current ESRC project ‘Big Society? Dis- abled People with Learning Disabilities and Civil Society’ (grant reference: ES/K004883/1). The research team, from The University of Sheffield, Manchester Metropolitan University, Northumbria University and The University of Bristol, are working with organisations of/for disabled people, activists and allies to discover how disabled people with learning disabilities are participating in their communities, in public services and in social action. The team is exploring disabled people with learning disabilities access to social capital and networks of interdependence as well as their social emotional well-being in a context of austerity. Here is a story from our project: An account from our Inclusive Living colleagues: Pete and Wendy Crane, along with colleagues including person-centred planning coordinator Max Neil, have developed Downloaded by [University of Sheffield] at 07:04 26 February 2015 Disability & Society 983 the Circles of Support approach to community living. This involves individuals such as Matt (a pseudonym) using their welfare benefits to recruit a network of advocates and support staff to support him 24/7 in his own home which is located a couple of streets down from his parents. (Goodley 2014, 128) Disability, then, offers opportunities for reconsidering our relationships with life, labour and slow death. Could care, rather than work, be a place to find identity and recognition? Why wear yourself out? Disability provides a moment to intervene in slow death: why work yourself to death? Why (just) work? How do we support one another in a time of austerity? Why sweat to improve one’s embodied and cognitive lot? How else might we live together to support, care and enable one another? What do we gain when we fail to meet neoliberalism’s normative labouring standards? For Kolárová : cripness is rich with failure; cripness is infused with negativity; yet we do not always see it as such. The rich archive of the labour of crip failure is here and at hand … but do we, as the crip community celebrate those as crip failures that can sustain our visions of utopia and whose negative energies move us towards the crip horizon?’ (Kolárová in press, n.p.) These crip horizons might be found as disability is, simultaneously for and against slow death. And this appears to be a worn out place that all occupy and can, via our collectivities and assemblages, recuperate our possibilities. What alternatives do we see for our worn-out bodies? Ones, we would assume, far beyond work and slow death. Notes 1. See http://disabilitynow.org.uk/blog/budget-bleaker-future 2. See http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/News/Cambridge-microbiologist-Robert-Barlow- dies-penniless-in-Liverpool-after-his-benefits-were-withdrawn-despite-him-needing-a-new- heart-20140409063051.htm 3. See http://dpac.uk.net/ References Berlant, L. 2007. “Slow Death: Sovereignty, Obesity, Lateral Agency.” Critical Inquiry 33: 754–780. Berlant, L 2010. “Cruel Optimism.” In The Affect Theory Reader, edited by M. Gregg and G. J. Seigworth, 93–117. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Berlant, L. 2011. Lauren Berlant, “Austerity, Precarity, Awkwardness”. Retrieved on 14th May 2013 from http://supervalentthought.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/berlant-aaa-2011final.pdf. Cooley, R. 2011. “Disabling Spectacles: Representations of Trig Palin and Cognitive Disability.” Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 5(3): 303–320. Goodley, D. 2014. Dis/Ability Studies: Theorising Disablism and Ableism. London: Routledge. Goodley, D, and K. Runswick-Cole. In press. “Dishumanism: Thinking about the Human through Disability.” Discourse: Cultural Politics of Education. Jakobsen, J. 2009. “The Economics of Fear, the Politics of Hope, and the Perversity of Happiness.” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 19 (2): 219–226. Kolárová, K. In press. “Cruising for a Crip(Topia) in the Context of Neoliberal Transforma- tions of the Czech Republic.” Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies. McRuer, R. 2012a. “Disability and the Globalisation of Austerity Politics.” Keynote Paper presented at the Contact Zone: Disability, Culture, Theory Conference, 25–27 October, University of Cologne. Downloaded by [University of Sheffield] at 07:04 26 February 2015 984 D. Goodley et al. McRuer, R. 2012b. “Afterword: The End of Contested Corporealities.” Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies 34 (3–4): 208–211. McRuer, R. 2012c. “Afterword.” Bioethical Inquiry 9: 357–358. Mitchell, D. 2014. “Gay Pasts and Disability Future(s) Tense. Heteronormative Trauma and Parasitism in Midnight Cowboy.” Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 8 (1), 1–16. Puar, J. K. 2012. “Precarity Talk: A Virtual Roundtable with Lauren Berlant.” Judith Butler, Bojana Cvejic, Isabell Lorey, Jasbir Puar, and Ana Vujanovic, TDR: The Drama Review 56 (4): 163–177. Soldatic, K., and A. Chapman. 2010. “Surviving the Assault? The Australian Disability Movement and the Neoliberal Workfare State.” Social Movement Studies 9 (2): 139–154. Tosh, J. 2013. “Women and Austerity: Beyond ‘Make Do and Mend’.” Psychology of Women Section Review 15 (1): 46–52. Wood, C. 2012. For Disabled People the Worst is Yet to Come…Destination Unknown: Summer 2012. London: Demos. Downloaded by [University of Sheffield] at 07:04 26 February 2015 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Disability & Society Unpaywall

Dis/ability and austerity: beyond work and slow death

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promoting access to White Rose research papers Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/ This is a copy of the final published version of a paper published via gold open access in Disability and Society. This open access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. White Rose Research Online URL for this paper: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/81046 Published paper Goodley, D., Lawthom, R. and Runswick-Cole, K. (2014) Dis/ability and austerity: Beyond work and slow death. Disability and Society, 29 (6). 980 - 984. Doi: 10.1080/09687599.2014.920125 White Rose Research Online eprints@whiterose.ac.uk This article was downloaded by: [University of Sheffield] On: 26 February 2015, At: 07:04 Publisher: Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Disability & Society Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cdso20 Dis/ability and austerity: beyond work and slow death a b b Dan Goodley , Rebecca Lawthom & Katherine Runswick-Cole School of Education, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK Department of Psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK Published online: 06 Jun 2014. Click for updates To cite this article: Dan Goodley, Rebecca Lawthom & Katherine Runswick-Cole (2014) Dis/ ability and austerity: beyond work and slow death, Disability & Society, 29:6, 980-984, DOI: 10.1080/09687599.2014.920125 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2014.920125 PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the “Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Versions of published Taylor & Francis and Routledge Open articles and Taylor & Francis and Routledge Open Select articles posted to institutional or subject repositories or any other third-party website are without warranty from Taylor & Francis of any kind, either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement. Any opinions and views expressed in this article are the opinions and views of the authors, and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor & Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of the Content. This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms- and-conditions It is essential that you check the license status of any given Open and Open Select article to confirm conditions of access and use. Downloaded by [University of Sheffield] at 07:04 26 February 2015 Disability & Society, 2014 Vol. 29, No. 6, 980–984, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2014.920125 CURRENT ISSUES a b b Dan Goodley *, Rebecca Lawthom and Katherine Runswick-Cole a b School of Education, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK; Department of Psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK (Received 15 April 2014; final version received 17 April 2014) The forthcoming book Dis/ability Studies: Theorising Disablism and Ableism argues that we are living in an historical epoch which might be described as neoliberal-ableism, in which we are all subjected to slow death, increased preca- rity and growing debility. In this paper we apply this analysis to a consideration of austerity with further reference to disability studies and politics. Keywords: disability; austerity; slow death; neoliberal-ableism Austerity By 2008 the world knew: the reckless nature of capitalism had led to economic meltdown. We had simply spent and borrowed too much. To overcome this we were, and still are, expected to ‘make do and mend’ (Tosh 2013). Rather than contest the system (capitalism), we should, well, work it more responsibly – be more prudent in our spending and more committed in our labour. We are, of course, ‘all in this together’, so the British Chancellor told us, and his government remains committed to ‘the makers, doers and savers’. Indeed, it would appear that we are all equal, although some are more equal than others. This is evidenced by the impact of auster- ity measures in Britain since the 2010 emergency budget. In 2012 the Disability in Austerity Study led by Demos estimated losses of £2000–3000 (in families’ house- hold income) over the course of the current parliament, with disabled people losing £9 billion in welfare support and one-third losing their Disability Living Allowance (Wood 2012). This had resulted in disabled people and their families experiencing: An ever-diminishing level of civic and social engagement – our households are becoming socially more isolated, and reducing the amount of activities they engage in – from essen- tials such as work and medical appointments to ‘luxuries’ such as volunteering and train- ing. This is at odds with the Government’s vision of stronger and active communities. Retrenchment of services – both statutory services and third sector services are being cut, leaving disabled people with nowhere else to turn. The concept of the safety net no longer resonates with people experiencing serious crises before help is provided. Declining mental health – our households are increasingly experiencing anxiety, depres- sion and fear for the future, with some relying on increased medication. (Wood 2012:7) This experience is nowhere more evident than today in the midst of neoliberal capitalism. Soldatic and Chapman (2010) depict this as a time of flexibility, *Corresponding author. Email: d.goodley@sheffield.ac.uk © 2014 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecom mons.org/licenses/by/3.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted. Downloaded by [University of Sheffield] at 07:04 26 February 2015 Disability & Society 981 casualisation, work readiness and productivity. The rationality of market rule, they say, demands an adaptable worker; albeit one caught up in the insecurities associated with the global economy and the winding back of welfare benefits and entitlements. For Cooley (2011), while at the beginnings of neoliberalism there was talk of free enterprise, the ‘American way’ and working for one’s family, latter iterations of neo- liberal discourse would suggest we are entering a cultural epoch where such a vision of human development automatically inducts each and everyone into what Jakobsen (2009, 224) describes as ‘a relational structure that provides for privatised resource- provision’. The way we would like to think of this relational structure is as follows: neoliberalism provides an ecosystem for the nourishment of ableism, which we can define as neoliberal-ableism. We are all expected to overcome economic downturn and respond to austerity through adhering to ableism’s ideals, its narrow conceptions of personhood, its arrogance and its propensity to buddy-up with other fascistic ide- ologies that celebrate the minority over the majority means that it is a world-view, an ontology and a methodology for the making human-kinds that will eventually, if left unchallenged, bulldoze the disparate variegated nature of human kind (Goodley 2014). A key principle of ‘body management within neoliberalism’, as Mitchell observes, is that: those who don’t adequately maintain their bodies are held personally responsible for their descent into the chaos of ill health and non-well-being profiting from the misfortunes of another; a parasitism of privilege allowed only to those who embody the normative capacities of neoliberal identities. (Mitchell 2014,3) ‘The truth is that all this work is debilitating’ (Puar 2012). Labour/slow death Work, for Lauren Berlant (2007, 2010, 2011), is best epitomised as a practice of slow death, a concept that refers to the physical wearing out of a population and the deterioration of people in that population, which is very nearly a defining condition of their experience and historical existence. We are, she suggests, exhausted by neo- liberal capitalism: we are all in slow death, but for some this is more apparent. This includes: the bodies of US waged workers will be more fatigued, in more pain, less capable of ordinary breathing and working, and die earlier than the average for higher-income workers, who are also getting fatter, but at a slower rate and with relatively more opportunity for exercise. (Berlant 2007, 775) To this collective we would add disabled people and many of their close allies. Neoliberal-ableism displays, to borrow the words of Robert McRuer (2012c), a ‘spe- cial genius’ at making lopsided growth, wealth for a few, and immiseration for many more, seem sexy, and – well – progressive and modern. Disabled people have to become, in the words of David Mitchell (2014), ‘able-disabled’; or, as Goodley (2014) notes, disabled people have to embrace able- ism to overcome their disabling conditions; or as Goodley and Runswick-Cole (in press) have argued, individuals need to embolden the ability side of the dis/ability complex in order to survive, hopefully thrive, but definitely make do and mend. This is what Mitchell (2014) and McRuer (2012a, 2012b) have in mind around neoliberal tolerance: Downloaded by [University of Sheffield] at 07:04 26 February 2015 982 D. Goodley et al. (1) if you are prepared to work hard then you are in; (2) don’t forget now: we are all in this together as workers and consumers; and (3) in these austere times we will get ourselves ‘back on our feet’– work will set us free. Crip alternatives (slowing the death down) The politics of disability permit us to think again (and differently) about living through (and being recognised by) neoliberal-ableism. Here are two thoughts. Firstly, why all this talk of austerity when we should be talking about poverty? In Britain the ‘bedroom tax’, the recent reduction of Disabled Student Allowance, and the reduction of numbers judged to be disabled (and therefore eligible to welfare benefits) put disabled people yet again amongst the poorest of the poor. If labour is slow death, living as a disabled person in 2014 might mean a quick one: A disabled man died penniless when he lost his benefits after being judged fit to work – despite being so ill doctors said he needed a new heart. Robert Barlow died last November aged 47 while suffering from a heart defect and brain tumour. The classi- cally trained pianist – who worked for years as a microbiologist in Cambridge – was deemed fit to work by benefits assessors Atos, even though doctors at the time urged him to have a heart transplant. He passed away less than two years later. Now Mr Barlow’s Cambridge family and Labour MP Luciana Berger want the Govern- ment to learn lessons from this tragic case. His aunt Joan Westland, 85, of Cherry Hinton, said: ‘I don’t know how they expected him to work. Nobody would have loved to work more than him, but he simply couldn’t.’ It is absolutely essential that we consider the ways in which poverty and disability are once again being cast together as inseparable categories. Disabled People Against the Cuts remind us that freedom can rarely be found in capitalism. Disability politics lead the way, yet again, in thinking about alternatives to neoliberal-ableist capitalism. Secondly, what alternatives does disability offer to the slow death of neoliberal- ableism and false promises of austerity? For David Mitchell (2014,1–2): ‘disability subjectivities create new forms of embodied knowledge and collective conscious- ness. Queer and disabled people’s interdependencies provide alternative ethical maps for living together outside of, even in opposition to, the dictates of normalcy’. This resonates with stories emerging from our current ESRC project ‘Big Society? Dis- abled People with Learning Disabilities and Civil Society’ (grant reference: ES/K004883/1). The research team, from The University of Sheffield, Manchester Metropolitan University, Northumbria University and The University of Bristol, are working with organisations of/for disabled people, activists and allies to discover how disabled people with learning disabilities are participating in their communities, in public services and in social action. The team is exploring disabled people with learning disabilities access to social capital and networks of interdependence as well as their social emotional well-being in a context of austerity. Here is a story from our project: An account from our Inclusive Living colleagues: Pete and Wendy Crane, along with colleagues including person-centred planning coordinator Max Neil, have developed Downloaded by [University of Sheffield] at 07:04 26 February 2015 Disability & Society 983 the Circles of Support approach to community living. This involves individuals such as Matt (a pseudonym) using their welfare benefits to recruit a network of advocates and support staff to support him 24/7 in his own home which is located a couple of streets down from his parents. (Goodley 2014, 128) Disability, then, offers opportunities for reconsidering our relationships with life, labour and slow death. Could care, rather than work, be a place to find identity and recognition? Why wear yourself out? Disability provides a moment to intervene in slow death: why work yourself to death? Why (just) work? How do we support one another in a time of austerity? Why sweat to improve one’s embodied and cognitive lot? How else might we live together to support, care and enable one another? What do we gain when we fail to meet neoliberalism’s normative labouring standards? For Kolárová : cripness is rich with failure; cripness is infused with negativity; yet we do not always see it as such. The rich archive of the labour of crip failure is here and at hand … but do we, as the crip community celebrate those as crip failures that can sustain our visions of utopia and whose negative energies move us towards the crip horizon?’ (Kolárová in press, n.p.) These crip horizons might be found as disability is, simultaneously for and against slow death. And this appears to be a worn out place that all occupy and can, via our collectivities and assemblages, recuperate our possibilities. What alternatives do we see for our worn-out bodies? Ones, we would assume, far beyond work and slow death. Notes 1. See http://disabilitynow.org.uk/blog/budget-bleaker-future 2. See http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/News/Cambridge-microbiologist-Robert-Barlow- dies-penniless-in-Liverpool-after-his-benefits-were-withdrawn-despite-him-needing-a-new- heart-20140409063051.htm 3. See http://dpac.uk.net/ References Berlant, L. 2007. “Slow Death: Sovereignty, Obesity, Lateral Agency.” Critical Inquiry 33: 754–780. Berlant, L 2010. “Cruel Optimism.” In The Affect Theory Reader, edited by M. Gregg and G. J. Seigworth, 93–117. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Berlant, L. 2011. Lauren Berlant, “Austerity, Precarity, Awkwardness”. Retrieved on 14th May 2013 from http://supervalentthought.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/berlant-aaa-2011final.pdf. Cooley, R. 2011. “Disabling Spectacles: Representations of Trig Palin and Cognitive Disability.” Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 5(3): 303–320. Goodley, D. 2014. Dis/Ability Studies: Theorising Disablism and Ableism. London: Routledge. Goodley, D, and K. Runswick-Cole. In press. “Dishumanism: Thinking about the Human through Disability.” Discourse: Cultural Politics of Education. Jakobsen, J. 2009. “The Economics of Fear, the Politics of Hope, and the Perversity of Happiness.” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 19 (2): 219–226. Kolárová, K. In press. “Cruising for a Crip(Topia) in the Context of Neoliberal Transforma- tions of the Czech Republic.” Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies. McRuer, R. 2012a. “Disability and the Globalisation of Austerity Politics.” Keynote Paper presented at the Contact Zone: Disability, Culture, Theory Conference, 25–27 October, University of Cologne. Downloaded by [University of Sheffield] at 07:04 26 February 2015 984 D. Goodley et al. McRuer, R. 2012b. “Afterword: The End of Contested Corporealities.” Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies 34 (3–4): 208–211. McRuer, R. 2012c. “Afterword.” Bioethical Inquiry 9: 357–358. Mitchell, D. 2014. “Gay Pasts and Disability Future(s) Tense. Heteronormative Trauma and Parasitism in Midnight Cowboy.” Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 8 (1), 1–16. Puar, J. K. 2012. “Precarity Talk: A Virtual Roundtable with Lauren Berlant.” Judith Butler, Bojana Cvejic, Isabell Lorey, Jasbir Puar, and Ana Vujanovic, TDR: The Drama Review 56 (4): 163–177. Soldatic, K., and A. Chapman. 2010. “Surviving the Assault? The Australian Disability Movement and the Neoliberal Workfare State.” Social Movement Studies 9 (2): 139–154. Tosh, J. 2013. “Women and Austerity: Beyond ‘Make Do and Mend’.” Psychology of Women Section Review 15 (1): 46–52. Wood, C. 2012. For Disabled People the Worst is Yet to Come…Destination Unknown: Summer 2012. London: Demos. Downloaded by [University of Sheffield] at 07:04 26 February 2015

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