Abstract: The Process of Change of Disability Identity of the Disabled Participating in Performance Arts in South Korea (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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317P The Process of Change of Disability Identity of the Disabled Participating in Performance Arts in South Korea

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Yeongmin Mun, Doctoral student, Seoul National University
Background and purpose : With the rise of performance art activities as an alternative method for the disability rights movement in the 2000s, various performance art organizations have been established for the disabled in South Korea. However, disabled individuals who participate in cultural and art activities are still simply regarded as “clients” of these activities. Discussions have also focused on the efficiency assessment of the disabled who participate in short-term art programs, and studies on the experiences of the disabled who take part in such activities as artists have been conducted only recently in a very limited manner. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to address the gaps in the literature by empirically analyzing the process of change in the physically disabled who participate in performance art activities. In particular, the perception of the impaired body can be dealt with in detail in the experiences of the physically disabled within the genre of performance art, which involves employing the impaired body as a tool for art. For this purpose, this study established the following research question:

What process of change does the identity of the disabled individual undergo as a result of performance art activities?

Methods : Study participants included a total of 8 physically disabled individuals who had participated in performance art activities such as play, dance, and magic over the last 3 years. In terms of their disabilities, there were 3 people with various physical disabilities and 5 with cerebral palsy. Their years of experience participating in performance art activities ranged widely from 3 to 13 years. There were 6 participants who belonged to theatres for the disabled while 2 worked as freelance performance artists. This study employed the method used in Yin’s (2013) case study methodology.

Findings : The analysis results showed changes in disability identity in 4 areas: 1) perception of the impaired body, 2) meaning of the experience from disability, 3) perception of one’s potential despite disability, and 4) perception of disabled and non-disabled groups. Furthermore, changes in disability identity differed depending on the types of performance art activities in which the participants were involved.

Conclusion and Implications : These findings suggest that the following cultural interventions are needed to empower people with disabilities. First, physical activity programs based on active “body projects” (Shilling, 1999) should be developed so that disabled individuals can better understand and act in relation to their bodies. Second, various channels should be provided for people with disabilities to reinterpret and express their experiences. Third, culture and arts jobs should be developed in which persons with severe disabilities can participate.