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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29725

Title: The Right or Responsibility of Inspection: Social Work, Photography, and People with Intellectual Disabilities
Authors: Fudge Schormans, Beverley Ann
Advisor: Chambon, Adrienne S.
Department: Social Work
Keywords: social work
intellectual disability
arts-informed research
photography and visual imagery
Issue Date: 30-Aug-2011
Abstract: Abstract The act of knowing is a critical determinant of what is known, yet there are limits and potential violence inherent in all ways of knowing. Social workers have an ethical responsibility to understand our means of knowing and our knowledge claims – both shape the work we do. Conspicuously under-represented as creators of/commentators on how they are represented, people with intellectual disabilities have had little/no control over what or how they are known. These ethical and epistemological concerns were the focus of this arts-informed qualitative study. The purpose was an interrogative encounter with one way of knowing – how public photographic imagery of people with intellectual disabilities influences knowledge about them. It was concerned, however, to come to this knowledge through an inquiry into how labelled people would, themselves, interpret and respond to these representations, and how they might use photography to trouble disabling images and non-disabled (social work) knowing. Theoretically framed by a critical disability lens, the work was influenced, too, by Derrida’s essay on photography, “The Right of Inspection”. The other regarding aspect of the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, his concern with our ethical responsibility to the alterity of the Other, most powerfully informs the work. Four adults with intellectual disabilities accepted the invitation to participate in this project. First, they critically engaged with a selection of public photographic images. In a unique methodological turn, they then transformed the images to reflect their critique. Interpretive analysis of the critiques and transformations identified four thematic ideas. Participants’ critiques were insightful and profound; transformations provocative and disruptive. Challenging dominant assumptions – and demanding non-disabled others re-think intellectual disability and people so labeled – the critiques and transformations also respond to the social/political/ideological/psychological ramifications of photographic imagery on the lived experience of intellectual disability. Through the work, participants confront non-disabled responses to public photographs and to labeled people, challenging non-disabled others to question their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours. The work also raises questions about research and people with intellectual disabilities: the possibilities for voice and empowerment through inclusive research strategies and visual methodologies, and the transformative potential of dialogic encounters between people with and without intellectual disabilities.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29725
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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