Byrne, Victoria (2017) Redistribution and Recognition: A Critical Examination of the Citizenship of People with Learning Disabilities. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

People with learning disabilities (PWLD) are a vulnerable group who frequently experience exclusion within society generally, do not often participate in research, and are usually left out of citizenship theorising. Observing the position of PWLD through a citizenship lens is useful in both highlighting the injustice suffered, the flaws of normative understandings of a concept that promises universal inclusion, and asks what form of citizenship do PWLD consider valuable.

This thesis provides a narrative account of a group of PWLD perceptions and experiences of normative understandings of citizenship. Independence and participation in this normative sense are juxtaposed with the findings that the participants valued feelings of autonomy and inclusion above such normative acts, which are aligned with neoliberal assumptions whereby self-sufficiency, economic contributions and a normative conception of independence are revered.

The citizenship of PWLD is in need of both recognition and redistributive address. The recognition of difference, positive representations, and the need for institutional respect for PWLD are found to be required on the one hand, and redistributive measures addressing economic marginalisation and being in a position where, as a group, PWLD are unable to achieve goals in line with a neoliberal value system.

The thesis concludes that in order for PWLD to experience true inclusion it is necessary to remove discussions of citizenship from expectations in relation to the economy and the ability of the individual to meet neoliberal goals. This is a radical assertion, however, the research findings indicate that a focus on redistribution is central to the true inclusion of PWLD.

FINAL THESIS - Byrne, Victoria.pdf - Accepted Version
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