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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/18312

Title: Disabled employees’ discursive practices dealing with ableist assumptions of productivity
Authors: JAMMAERS, Eline
Zanoni, Patrizia
Hardonk, Stefan
Issue Date: 2014
Citation: EAWOP Small Group Meeting, Maastricht, 22-24/10/2014
Abstract: This article explores how workers with disabilitie and organizational discourses on work and labour marks in one Flemish organization deal with competing societalet participation. On the one hand, the evolution from welfare to workfare as a basic principle of Western welfare states has caused governments to increasingly emphasize on the importance of activation of minorities into the labour market. This is commonly framed within a discourse of equal opportunities and self-realization through paid employment. On the other hand many employers are reluctant to hire or promote people with disabilities based on a discourse of lack of productiveness, which is historically linked to a deficit perspective on disability. Within this discourse much emphasis is placed on performance as a key characteristic of competent employees, and workers with disabilities are constructed in opposition to the notion of the highly performant employee. These discourses on macro and meso levels of society entail competing forms of identity regulation at the level of the worker, who in research is often considered to be a mere subject of discursive power. Much less attention has been given to the ways in which individuals themselves engage with these attempts to regulate their professional identity. In the case of workers with disabilities this process becomes further complicated by the functional limitations associated with their bodily impairments. The aim of this paper is therefore to analyze how workers with disabilities deal with competing discourses which in a contradictory way expect them to engage in formal employment, and demean their competence and productiveness by referring to their impairments and functional limitations. Within this analysis specific attention is given to mechanisms employed by these workers to retain a positive sense of their productivity. A critical discourse analysis was applied to semi-structured in-depth interviews with twelve wage-subsidized employees with disabilities in Flanders, Belgium. Findings show that when identity regulation was based on traditional quantitative concepts of productiveness, employees used a number of strategies such as seeing the impairment as a pre-social fact, using the argument of wage subsidy, considering oneself as still productive enough or distancing oneself from ‘the disabled’. Another way of upholding productiveness and competence in their professional identity was by broadening of the concept of productivity. This led to the identification of several business case like advantages such as: better understanding, personal time investments, trying harder and being a worthy contributor to society.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/18312
Category: C2
Type: Conference Material
Appears in Collections: Research publications

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