1st Edition

Disability and Labour in the Twentieth Century Historical and Comparative Perspectives

Edited By Radu Harald Dinu, Staffan Bengtsson Copyright 2023
    250 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    250 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume puts disability and labour at the centre of historical enquiry. It offers fresh perspectives on the history of disability and labour in the twentieth century and highlights the need to address the topic beyond regional boundaries. Bringing together historians and disability scholars from a variety of disciplines and regions, the chapters investigate various historical settings, ranging from work cooperatives to disability associations and informal workplaces, and analyse multiple meanings of labour in different political and economic systems through the lens of disability.
    The book’s contributors demonstrate that the nexus between labour and disability in modern, industrialised societies resists easy generalisations, as marginalisation and integration were often two sides of the same coin: While the experience of many disabled people has been marked by exclusion from mainstream production, labour also became a vehicle for integration and emancipation. Addressing one of the research gaps of the disability history field, which has long been dominated by British and North American perspectives, the book sheds light on less-studied examples from Scandinavian countries and Eastern Europe including Czechoslovakia, Poland, the Soviet Union, Bulgaria and Romania.
    Cutting across national, cultural and class divides the volume provides a springboard for reflections on common experiences of disability and labour during the twentieth century. It will be of interest to all scholars and students working in the field of disability studies, sociology and labour history.

    Introduction: Disability and Labour in Modern Societies
    Radu Harald Dinu and Staffan Bengtsson

    Chapter One – The Right to Work: Disability Awareness and Activism in Twentieth-Century Canada
    Dustin Galer

    Chapter Two – Gendered Labour and Consumer Culture in the Multiple Sclerosis Associations in Sweden and West Germany
    Ylva Söderfeldt

    Chapter Three – ‘Salaries, Not Benefits!’ Disability Rights Activism and the Right to Work in the Scandinavian Welfare States
    Anna Derksen

    Chapter Four – For Society and the Individual: Disability and Work in Post-War Sweden
    Staffan Bengtsson

    Chapter Five – From Industrialised to Knowledge-Based Societies: The Metamorphosis of the French Disabled Worker since 1957
    Cristina Popescu

    Chapter Six – Warriors into Workers: Soviet Labour Policy and Disabled Veterans of the Great Patriotic War
    Frances Bernstein

    Chapter Seven – Beyond Labour: Socialist Disability Policy in the Realm of Mental Health
    Ina Dimitrova

    Chapter Eight – Socialist Humanism, Work, and Disability in Socialist Romania: The Legal Regime of the Third-Degree Invalidity Pension, 1949–1989
    Cristina Diac

    Chapter Nine – Becoming a Productive Citizen: Labour and the Blind Community in Socialist Romania
    Radu Harald Dinu

    Chapter Ten – Vocational Guidance in Socialist Czechoslovakia and the Context of Global and National Histories of Disability
    Victoria Shmidt

    Chapter Eleven – Work and Life Courses of Polio Survivors in Socialist Poland
    Marcin Stasiak

    Monika Baár


    Radu Harald Dinu is Senior Lecturer in History at the School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University, Sweden. His research focusses on modern and contemporary history of Eastern Europe and covers a wide range of themes, from the history of fascism to how communism shaped experiences of disability in Eastern Europe.  

    Staffan Bengtsson is Assistant Professor of Social Work and Associate Professor of Disability Research at the School of Health and Welfare, Jönköping University, Sweden. At the centre of his ongoing research stands disability as a societal phenomenon in relation to various theoretical perspectives and models, in which sociocultural dimensions are accentuated in connection to religious and ideological value systems.