Disability And Employment Essay

1264 words - 6 pages


People with impairments encounter disadvantages when entering and remaining in the labour market. This is due to specific set principals and values that western society has on work been organised around maximising profit and the competition between workers. (Barnes, 2003 P. 1) These specific set of values and principles prevent people with impairments participating in the labour market as a result of the “environmental and cultural barriers associated with capitalism” (Barnes, 2003 P. 2).

In order to substantiate the disadvantages in the labour market for people with impairments, this essay will now examine these disadvantages by firstly reviewing the historic background of disability in the labour market, then by clarifying how education has hindered people with impairments participation in the labour market and ascertain the three main disadvantages people with impairments encounter when accessing or participating in the labour market.

Historic review of disability in the labour market

In the eighteenth century there was extensive developments in land commercialisation, agriculture and industrialisation that changed society economical and culturally. The move away from “cottage – based industries to factory – based systems” (Oliver and Barnes 1998, P. 30) led to paid labour market. Due to the fast paced work within factories being abled bodied was a necessity to work. As Ryan and Thomas state,

“The speed of factory work, the enforced discipline, the time keeping and
production norms - all these were a highly unfavourable change from the
slower, more self-determined and flexible methods of work into which
many handicapped people had been integrated”.
(1980, P.101)

This led society being segregated into two groups, those who were able bodied and could work and those who had impairments and could not work. Society began to view people with impairments as being an economic burden and thereby segregation began with the establishment of the poorhouses, institutes and workhouse.

The nineteenth century saw further segregation of people with impairments into poorhouses, institutes and workhouse as work in the factories had become more physically systematic. To maintain order of state welfare support to those who were impaired; the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1845 (PLAA) was legislated to deter the “able – bodied malingerer” (Oliver et al 1998, P. 30) in claiming welfare by isolating the worthy poor into institutes. The PLAA also amended the process of mental health assessment of people with impairments from local officials to doctors. This was the beginning of “individualisation and medicalization of the body” (Armstrong 1983) and increased segregation of people with impairments from society. During in the nineteenth and twentieth century “the emergence of Social Darwinism and the Eugenics Movement” (Barnes 1996, P. 56) further contributed to the segregation of people with impairments because these ideas “had managed...

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