Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Beckett, A. and Campbell, T. The social model of disability as an oppositional device (2015) Disability & Society, 2015 Vol. 30, No. 2, 270-283

DOI: 10.1080/09687599.2014.999912

This article engages with debates about the UK Disabled People’s Movement’s ‘Big Idea’ – the social model of disability – positioning this as an ‘oppositional device’. This concept is adapted from the work of the art theorist and activist Brian Holmes, elaborated using insights from Foucault and others. The model’s primary operation is introducing contingency into the present, facilitating disabled people’s resistance-practices. We recognise, however, that the device can operate in a disciplinary manner when adopted by a machinery of government. Whilst our primary goal is to understand the character and operation of the social model, by providing a more general definition of an oppositional device as the concrete operation of technologies of power, we also propose a concept potentially useful for the analysis of the resistance-practices of activists involved in a wide variety of struggles. This concept may thus have implications for wider social and political analysis.

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