Welfare practices for the disabled: Between recognition and disregard

The study will investigate the experiences made by people with physical and multiple disabilities who were rehabilitated and socialized in institutions specialized in caring for the physically disabled (in the German- and French-speaking parts of Switzerland) between 1950 and 2010. The experiences are classified within the context of recognition and disregard.

  • Project description (ongoing research project)

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    Up until about the year 2000, people with physical and multiple disabilities were usually rehabilitated and socialized as inpatients. They reported experiencing supportive as well as coercive practices and even traumatic experiences in the context of welfare.

    In practice, developments in the field of care for the physically disabled have clearly been moving towards a stronger appreciation of self-determination and recognition since about 1970. In order to examine this development, surveys will be carried out with three cohorts (1950, 1970, 1990). The data compiled within the scope of this participative research project will be discussed with experts from institutions providing care for physically disabled people in order to determine actions so as to improve the scope of self-determination within the institutional context.

  • Background

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    The history of care for the physically disabled in the second half of the 20th century has not been comprehensively reappraised in Switzerland. In the 1970s, the history of this care was strongly criticized, especially for coercion and disregard, particularly by people who had been socialized and rehabilitated in institutions specifically providing care to physically disabled people.

    Self-determination and recognition have, in the meantime, become increasingly important in those institutions as well. Are these changing values between 1950 and 2010 also reflected in the subjective experiences of the people concerned?

  • Aim

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    Experiences of recognition and disregard made by people with a physical or with multiple disabilities in institutions providing care for the physically disabled are to be investigated. The central factors, recognition and disregard, will be mapped out and their impact on the biographies of the people concerned determined. Personal experiences will be examined in the historical context of care for the physically disabled, in order to draw conclusions for the future care of physically disabled people.

  • Relevance

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    The stories of the people concerned will be reported and made accessible. In compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, this research project will be participative. This approach will be developed further, and options for the fostering of self-determination/recognition within the institutional context of care provision for people with physical disabilities will be determined. Socio-political authorities and commissions will receive guidance for the design and evaluation of measures to be taken in the field of institutionalized care for people with physical disabilities.

  • Original title

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    Between "Anerkennung und Missachtung" (between recognition and disregard). Reconstruction of coercion, outside control and participation in the context of welfare/care for people with physical disabilities in the period between 1950 and 2010 – a participatory study with People with Physical and Multiple Disabilities