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Towards socio-spatial inclusion? Disabled people, neoliberalism and the contemporary labour market

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In many Western countries, disability assistance programmes have been restructured to encourage paid work. This paper examines the opportunities and barriers facing disabled people entering the labour market. Using data from semi-structured interviews, the study explores employers’ conceptualization and treatment of disabled workers. While meaningful accommodation does occur, less promising outcomes are also common. For example, some disabled people face exclusion from service work on grounds that have little to do with the capacity to perform the essential functions of specific jobs. Others face exploitation in downgraded service occupations. Moreover, funding cuts and market discipline in public and non-profit organizations limit their capacity to accommodate disabled workers. While employment can offer material security and social status, successful employment for many disabled people cannot occur without an effective challenge to the contextual constraints of non-accommodating workplaces and labour processes.
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Keywords: Ontario; disability; employment; in-depth interviews; neoliberalism; workplace accommodation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8S 4M1, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2006-06-01

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