Absent Citizens: Making Citizenship Accessible

Slide 1

Michael J. Prince
Presentation at York University
Vanier College
March 18, 2010

Slide 2

  • My locations
  • Absent citizens and related concepts
  • What is citizenship
  • Making citizenship accessible
  • Continuing thoughts

Slide 3
My locations

  • Outsider in the inside of the movement
  • Insider on the outside of the academy
  • Outsider/Insider connections
  • Who and what prompted me to write this book

Slide 4
The concept of "absent citizens"

  • Absence of persons with disabilities in at least four ways:
  1. Lacking formal rights and membership status in political communities
  2. Gaps in, and obstacles to actual practices in various aspects of life
  3. Overlooked in social science studies and theory
  4. Excluded from most definitions and discussions of citizenship

Slide 5
Absence is connected to power and presence

  • Absent citizens are the effects of the exercise of power in specific places, certain groups, numerous areas of life and time periods
  • Absent citizens are not totally outside the community, but are socially produced and politically positioned in marginalizing ways
  • Think always of “absent/present citizens” together

Slide 6
Concepts related to absent citizens

Concept: Second-class citizens
Focus: Economic class and social status
Authors: Eisenberg 1982; Roche 1992; Heater 2004

Concept: Citizens minus/Citizens plus
Focus: Place of First Nations and other indigenous peoples in Canada
Authors: Hawthorn-Tremblay reports 1966-67; Cairns 2000; Pothier and Devlin 2006

Concept: Underclass
Focus: Economic class and race in America
Authors: Mouffe 1991

Concept: Silenced citizens
Focus: Children's rights and lack of voice
Authors: Andreychuk and Fraser 2007

Concept: Marginal matrix of citizenship
Focus: Social, political and economic oppression
Authors: Yuval-Davis 1997

Concept: Un-, sub-, quasi-, marginal citizens, and super-citizens
Focus: Hierarchy of human rights and status groups in European community
Authors: Nash 2009

Slide 7
Policy determinants of accessible citizenship

  • Universalistic income security at adequate and reliable levels through the life course
  • Inclusive education
  • Gainful employment with appropriate supports in inclusive workplaces
  • Affordable and available supply of personal supports, housing, and community services
  • Universal design for physical environments, electoral systems, and systems of communication, transportation and information
  • Mechanisms to tackle systemic discrimination and to promote human rights for all

Slide 8
What is citizenship

  • A fluid mix of ideas and frames, relations, resources
  • “A sense of belonging in one’s country and gives each individual the right to participate in society and in its economic and political systems” Scott Task Force Report, 1996
  • In Absent Citizens, I explore five elements: discourse, legal and equality, democratic and political, fiscal and social, and economic

Slide 9
Making citizenship accessible

  • By grounding it in actual lived experiences, embodied needs and capacities
  • By raising critical awareness and public understanding of status quo
  • By removing community barriers and social wrongs
  • By respecting and promoting human rights & human dignities

Slide 10
Continuing Thoughts

  • Widespread and thorough inclusion is a reality for a relative minority
  • The project of making citizenship accessible has both theoretical and practical elements (the academy and the movement ; insider/outsider dynamics)
  • Citizenship is a bundle of legal statuses and lived practices of embodied subjects in complex societies with ambivalent values
  • What kinds of politics will support the development of rights, access and inclusion?

Slide 11
A sunset or a new dawn?

Slide 12
Thank you to

Access Centre – Able York
Graduate Program in Critical Disability Studies
Students for Barrier-free Access, University of Toronto