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'Quality of Life' Talk and the Corporatisation of Intellectual Disability

Rapley, M. and Ridgway, J. (1998) 'Quality of Life' Talk and the Corporatisation of Intellectual Disability. Disability & Society, 13 (3). pp. 451-471.

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The notion of 'Quality of Life' (QOL) has recently become a key device in the intellectual disability research community. Despite considerable attention to operational definition and issues of measurement, little work has considered the historical and sociopolitical context of the construct. The view that QOL represents an evolution of Wolfensberger's (1972) Principle of Normalisation appears widespread. This paper argues that this view is naive. An historical study of the rhetoric of government and academia in the United Kingdom suggests that QOL is intimately bound up with broader discourses of managerialism and corporatism in contemporary western societies. Rather than being the ideologically pure and scientifically untroubled notion implicitly claimed by the research community, QOL discourse is shown to be mutually constructed by government and the 'psy-complex'. Whether such a construction can redeem its practical and rhetorical promises, and also serve the interests of people with intellectual disabilities, is questioned.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Publisher: Routledge
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