Public space and impairment: an introspective case study of disabling and enabling experiences

Lingsom, Susan
December 2012
Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research;Dec2012, Vol. 14 Issue 4, p327
Academic Journal
The present article takes a phenomenological approach to the study of disability in the social setting of public space. It is an autobiographical account. The introspective methodology expands the already contested field of illness narratives in qualitative research. Three major themes are addressed: accessibility of public space; routines for managing with functional limitations; and inner dialogues of being on display for self and others. Moral and emotional reflections over acquired impairment and over ‘successful’ managing of impairment are discussed within conceptual frameworks of embodied consciousness, fluidity of movement, and staring. In this case study of body–space relations, enabling moments are primarily experienced and sought in terms of the ‘absent’ body. Disabling moments are to be found in physical and emotional barriers to navigating space and in self-surveillance. Ongoing oscillation between enabling and disabling states of mind is experienced.


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