Mind & Society

, Volume 16, Issue 1–2, pp 81–94 | Cite as

Disability, economic agency, and embodied cognition

  • Thomas AbramsEmail author


In this paper, I combine the actor-network economic sociology of disability with recent developments in phenomenological, embodied cognitive science, to discuss how ability, calculative agency, and meaning are distributed throughout materially situated sociocognitive systems. I begin by outlining the actor-network approach to disability, market formation, and economic agency. Next, I turn to the cognitive sciences, and describe the emergence of consciousness and meaning in embodied human being. With an operative synthesis of the two projects in place, I turn to government-organized disability savings plans in Canada. I suggest that the low uptake of these plans can be explained using the theoretical synthesis provided in the first two sections of this paper, giving a robust account of the threefold distribution of ability, calculative agency, and meaning.


Disability Actor-network theory Economic rationality Phenomenology Extended cognition Embodiment 



The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada generously supported this research. Thanks to Carlos Novas and James A. Shaw for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social Justice EducationOntario Institute for Studies in Education/University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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