Understanding positive subjectivities made possible online for disabled people.
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The ideology of individualism underlying identity and psychology's focus on a visual ontology may serve to inhibit the social value of people with disabilities. The online medium with its capacity for textual self presentation presents a potentially new environment to operate within. This study set out to explore the psychological meaning of what it meant to be online for people with disabilities. Following the tradition of discursive psychology, we focused especially on constructions of how online experience provided alternative frameworks for social positioning. Participants were recruited from various disability organisations in New Zealand and were invited to take part in an online interview. Three key linguistic resources were identified: uncontaminated judgement, exhibiting strengths, and operating independently. Embedded within these resources was the idea that the physical and attitudinal barriers, disrupting the ability of people with disabilities to display their capabilities independent of a disabled identity, are eliminated online. Consequently, being judged outside of the constraints of a disabled identity affords people with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy a more socially valued subjectivity and a more positive identity.
Bowker, N. I. & Tuffin, K. (2007). Understanding positive subjectivities made possible online for disabled people. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 36(2), 63-71.