The Commonwealth of Human Dignity and Disability

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Primary Supervisor
Kendall, Elizabeth
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Ehrlich, Carolyn E
Clanchy, Kelly M
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2024-02-23
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Abstract

Dignity, a multifaceted and contestable concept, is a critical concept in the realisation of human rights. It holds particular significance within healthcare, equity, and disability research and practice, where it supports the rights of vulnerable populations. Research has established the far-reaching benefits of dignity for people with and without disability, encompassing improved physical and mental health, end-user satisfaction, person-centred care, and optimisation of services and experiences. However, dignity presents a paradox for the more than 1 billion people globally living with disability. Namely, why do some people easily and universally experience dignity and human rights, while others are consistently faced with its deprivation and denial? The resulting inequity is deeply rooted in a complex societal context, characterised by structural inequalities, institutional discrimination, and an enduring legacy of oppression. Despite the acknowledged importance of dignity for people with disability, substantial gaps in understanding and practical implementation remain, particularly within mainstream systems like healthcare and public transport, where stigma and the medical model of disability are well entrenched and embedded. Existing dominant theoretical conceptualisations of dignity - inherent and contingent dignity - are problematic for people with disability, as they are based on criteria for who is included and receives dignity and who is excluded. These criteria are often rooted in ableist assumptions about what it means to be human or autonomous. Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to understand dignity in the context of disability, using Critical Disability Theory (CDT). The outcome of the thesis is the development of a model that integrates the definitions and experiences of dignity for people with disability with practical recommendations and relevant literature. The model is designed for integration into research and the design and delivery of mainstream systems and services that support people with disability. [...]

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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School of Health Sci & Soc Wrk
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The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.
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Subject
human rights
disability
dignity
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