The ‘Disability Commons’: Re-thinking Mothering Through Disability

  • Katherine Runswick-Cole
  • Dan Goodley


  • In England, ‘good parenting’ has become a focus for government policy alongside the view that early intervention in children’s lives is critical for their cognitive and emotional development;

  • Despite the gender neutral policy discourse, mothers still bear the majority of the responsibility for care;

  • In austere times, mothers are expected to labour and care to produce children who do not place a social or economic burden on the state—this is ‘austerity parenting’;

  • ‘Austerity parenting’ makes mothers of disabled children precarious as they and their children are seen as making present and future demands on the resources of the state;

  • In order to escape blame, mothers of disabled children must accept their child’s difference and disorder;

  • Mothers of disabled children find themselves having to claim that their disabled children are both ‘same as’ and ‘different from’ other children in order to claim their right to be included in wider society;

  • We describe the temporal and geographical location of the seemingly ‘natural’ importance of the mother-child dyad within studies of childhood;

  • We conclude by re-thinking mothering through disability to call for a coming together of the ‘disability commons’ to campaign for the rights of disabled children and young people.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine Runswick-Cole
    • 1
  • Dan Goodley
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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