Session: Integrating Critical Disability Studies into Social Work Research, Practice, and Policy (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

100 Integrating Critical Disability Studies into Social Work Research, Practice, and Policy

Friday, January 13, 2023: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Ahwatukee B, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
Cluster: Disability
Paul Sterzing, PhD, University of California, Berkeley
Paul Sterzing, PhD, University of California, Berkeley, Vandana Chaudhry, PhD, City University of New York -- College of Staten Island, Eunkyung Chung, MA, University of California, Berkeley, Nev Jones, PhD, University of Pittsburgh and Katie Savin, PhD, University of California, Berkeley
Disability constitutes the largest minority group (~20%) in this country and across the globe, with profound disability-related disparities observed across race and ethnicity, socioeconomic class, rurality, and national and global region. The field of social work is being called to center anti-oppressive paradigms into its research, policy, and practice; however, social work researchers and practitioners often lack foundational knowledge on anti-ableist theories, research priorities and methods, policy goals, and practice strategies. Further, social work has historically considered disability from a charity perspective that sees disability as an individual misfortune and people with disabilities as subjects in need of assistance. This roundtable calls for a paradigm shift towards a more critical engagement with disability informed by the perspectives and advocacy of disabled communities.

Critical disability studies (CDS) can help us address these important ontological and epistemological gaps within the field of social work. CDS is an interdisciplinary field that challenges hegemonic framings that individualize, pathologize, medicalize, and depoliticalize disability, while integrating transformative theoretical frameworks, such as decolonization, critical race theory, queer theory, and feminist perspectives. CDS provides a multi-level analysis of disability that challenges the medical model's view of disability as an individual trait and positions disability as the complex interplay between medicine, society, and bodies.

Social work researchers and practitioners require familiarity with the construct of ableism and how interconnected societal systems assign 'value to people's bodies and minds based on societally constructed ideas of normalcy, productivity, desirability, intelligence, excellence, and fitness' across transnational contexts. Building on this core construct, CDS brings disability and intersectionality together in an explicit manner, while providing important insights into how communities are affected by the creation of able and non-able bodies. CDS has direct applicability to social work by helping us to redefine disability as a natural part of the human experience and address disability-related segregation, discrimination, and prejudice within education, employment, and other societal contexts.

This roundtable will draw upon on the panel's disability research and expertise to facilitate a dialogue on the opportunities and challenges of integrating CDS into social work research, policy, and practice. Presenter one will provide an overview of CDS, including the importance of centering intersectional ableism into these core professional domains. Presenter two will discuss centering transnational anti-colonial, anti-ableist perspectives in social work through ethnographic analysis of disability policies and programs in the context of India. Presenter three will discuss how CDS can inform social work research and provide guidance on applying CDS perspectives to quantitative social work research. Presenter four will focus on the intersections of CDS and mad studies, with particular emphasis on the construction of psychiatric disability/disorder within mental health oriented clinical social work programs. Lastly, presenter five will focus on disability as an experience created by its role in social welfare policy, which was once considered by the field to fit into the preferred category of 'deserving poor' and more recently characterized as an experience marked by stigma, material deprivation, and administrative burden.

See more of: Roundtables