Complex and Critical: A Methodological Application of the Tripartite Model of Disability

  • David BoltEmail author
Part of the Critical Studies of Education book series (CSOE, volume 12)


A few of years ago I was invited to contribute a paper to David Mitchell’s panel at the Society for Disability Studies Conference, Minneapolis, 2014, entitled Non-Normative Positivisms: Towards a Methodology of Critical Embodiment, the SDS panel to which I refer throughout this chapter also included work by Stephanie Kerschbaum and the late Tobin Siebers. The premise was that the concept of non-normative positivisms would open up a space from which we could sketch out an alternative ethics about why and how disabled lives matter (Mitchell 2014). Though appreciative of the salient assertion that disabled people must be allowed to pursue our lives much as non-disabled people pursue their lives, the panel set out to argue that in practice this ethical trajectory is defined by limitations and serves to bolster the desirability of the normate subject position. At the time of this invitation I was completing a book that explored distinctions between ableism and disablism (Bolt 2014a), which I pondered with the theme of the panel in mind and came up with the idea of the tripartite model of disability.


Tripartite model Ableism Disablism Textual analysis Norms 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Culture and Disability Studies, Liverpool Hope UniversityLiverpoolUK

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