A critical approach to the sociology of disability is particularly timely given the challenges facing disabled people under the current coalition government in the UK in ‘an age of austerity’. Whilst other dimensions to identity, such as age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic class, sexuality, occupation and health, are the subject of considerable research, focus and engagement, disability remains largely out in the cold.  The emergence, in the early 1980s, of the field of disability studies, with its strong emphasis on social oppression, led to strong criticism of the social deviance paradigm and a reconsideration of the disabling dynamics of society and a sociology of impairment. Thomas (2007) carefully charts these developments in Sociologies of Disability and Illness and concludes that sociologists may recognise and reclaim the ‘lost sociology of disability’ in the future. The proposed study group is a step in that direction.


The Disability Studies Group aims to:

  • Reflect the diversity of disability related research among sociologists
  • Promote a recognition of disabled academics in sociology and take a critical approach towards the disabling relations of research production
  • Develop a forum for the discussion and exchange of ideas for academics, researchers, students and others who share an interest in the area of disability
  • Examine the effects of welfare policies, broader socio-economic structures, and cultural understandings of disability and illness, foregrounding the experiences of disabled people
  • Meet a minimum of once a year (virtually/face to face) for a one day seminar
  • Report annually to the BSA Executive Committee.