Activism

Activism is a practice of, or orientation toward, taking action, often implying the context of a social or political movement. Although activism emphasizes collective action, an individual and his or her actions may be considered “activist” depending on their relationship to larger struggles. Disability activism refers to “collective political action by and for people with disabilities” (Barnes and Mercer 2010, 176), which contributes to “the continuing struggle of disabled people to gain a voice and to shape our destinies” (Longmore 2003, 231). The word “advocacy” is sometimes used interchangeably with activism, since a person may advocate on behalf of others. But although some scholars and activists include advocacy by parents and other nondisabled allies under the category of disability activism, leadership by disabled people in activism is crucial to collective autonomy.

While recognizing a plurality of disability movements, and groups within disability movements, the late Paul Longmore argued that some …

This essay may be found on page 21 of the printed volume.

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