American Government and Politics

The Puzzling Place of Disability in Political Science



Disability studies emerged in the 1980s as part of a cluster of politicized identity-based interdisciplinary fields of study in race, ethnicity, and gender that theorized and sought to actualize greater inclusion in academia and society writ large. Political science, however, has been slow to incorporate critical studies of identity and lacks critical sustained engagement with disability. This paper seeks to fill this disciplinary lacunae. I draw from recent theorizing within disability studies and political science to develop a framework for examining how disability structures politics and, in turn, how politics structures disability. I then illustrate the ways in which engagement between disability studies and political science can appropriately center disability within politics and deepen our understanding of political conflict in the United States.


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