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Journal Article

Hidden labor: Disabled/Nondisabled encounters, agency, and autonomy

Jackie Leach Scully
International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics
Vol. 3, No. 2, Special Issue: Disability Studies in Feminist Bioethics (Fall 2010), pp. 25-42
DOI: 10.2979/fab.2010.3.2.25
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Page Count: 18
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Hidden labor: Disabled/Nondisabled encounters, agency, and autonomy
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Abstract In this paper I consider one effect that disablism has on social interactions between nondisabled and disabled people: the “hidden labor” carried out by disabled people to manage or manipulate the presentation of their impairment to others, and their own and others' emotional responses, in order to achieve their goals. Although such management may be understood as actively enhancing the disabled person's autonomous agency, I argue that the cost of this labor to the disabled person and the fact that it must be hidden from the nondisabled partner in order to be effective, create an ethical problem. Such interactions confer a form of autonomy through a connection that is fundamentally distorted by asymmetries of power, knowledge, risk, and is therefore ethically undesirable.

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