Missing Discourses: Concepts of joy and happiness in disability and rehabilitation policy, discourse, and practice
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This paper analyses a series of representations of disability and rehabilitation taken from research and policy settings in Australia. The purpose of the analysis is to a) identify the presence or absence of discourses of happiness and joy in the contexts analysed and b) to analyse the various treatments and interpretations of happiness and joy that are present. Through this analysis, we seek to show that while "official" professional and public discourses on disability and rehabilitation exhibit predominantly negative discoursal patterns and features (i.e. aspirations to achieve 'normality' and negative lexicon such as dis-ability, coping, rehabilitation, burden, abnormality, etc.) there are many other potentially positive and empowering discoursal and narrative patterns and features that remain hidden beneath negatively oriented ways of seeing, being, acting, and describing in academic, policy, and practice settings. We argue that the general absence of concepts of joy and happiness in "official" discourses on disability and rehabilitation has significant ramifications for our cultural understandings of disability; for the lives of people with disability and their families; and for academics and service providers who are faced with predominantly negative and morally distressing discourses of disability and rehabilitation as part of their day to day workplace cultures.
Discourses and Cultural Practices