Missing discourses: Concepts of joy and happiness in disability

Missing discourses: Concepts of joy and happiness in disability

Published 20th May 2009

This paper analyses a series of representations of disability and rehabilitation taken from research and policy settings in Australia. The purpose of the analysis is to (a) identify the presence or absence of discourses of happiness and joy in the contexts analysed and (b) to analyse the various treatments and interpretations of happiness and joy that are present. Through this analysis we show that while official professional and public discourses on disability and rehabilitation exhibit predominantly negative discursive patterns and features (i.e. aspirations to achieve ‘normality’ and a negative lexicon, such as disability, coping, rehabilitation, burden, abnormality, etc.) there are many other potentially positive and empowering discursive and narrative patterns and features that remain hidden beneath negatively oriented ways of seeing, being, acting and describing in academic, policy and practice settings. We argue that policy-makers and academics alike need to be sensitive to the dynamics of discourse when constructing research and developing policy.


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Publication Type

Editorial Article