Disability Politics

Politics is the structured set of societal activities which are related to making decisions in polity, or various forms of political power relationships between individuals, for the distribution of public status or assets, or goods. The branch of academic study that studies politics and governmental systems is known as political science. This area of study seeks to understand the relationship between social forces and political behavior, and attempts to create political systems that maximize the citizens’ control over their polity. Additionally, politics also seeks to understand the processes by which power is contested and changed from one form to another. While this may seem like an extremely complicated process, politics in the broadest sense can be simplified down into the more basic concepts of individual freedom and group interest, where the complex process of politics itself is composed of a complex variety of these core concepts.

Politics has a lengthy history, going back at least as far as ancient Greece, when Socrates was branded for his views concerning religion and government. With the rise of classical Greece and the advent of political philosophy, politics became a more formal field of study, and philosophers began to write works on the nature of politics and how it could be best served by the members of a polity. By the time of the ancient Greek civilization, all of the major political parties appeared, and were either founded by philosophers or included as part of a much larger body of academic thought, called the Academy. This early development of political theory resulted in the separation of academic inquiry into two fields, with each side using its own scientific method to support its political philosophy. Later, as academic interests in the world began to focus more on political philosophy, the turn towards what was called “anti-liberalism” paved the way for modern-day politics.

The modern definition of politics, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is: the arrangement of the powers of government in accordance with the wishes of the people at a given time. Politics has been defined as an art of governing human institutions, especially institutions in political action. The focus of politics is determined by the interests of those who participate in political decision-making processes.

The major goal of politics is political action. Politics is characterized by political contestation, which occurs when there are heated debates about the allocation of political power and influence, and the ultimate success of those policies. History has seen many different forms of political contestation, ranging from aristocratic struggles for political power to tribal contests to colonial campaigns to the struggle of individual freedom against political slavery.

The existence of political systems has been challenged by various groups claiming that they have a right to a share of political power, a right that is inherent in the nature of democracy. This group argues that because power is distributed through a society, those with disabilities will not be able to participate in a meaningful way in the political system of their nation-state or community. Opponents of disability-based politics argue that, if this were true, then all social interaction would simply be the interactions of those with normal abilities, and nothing more. Because these groups assert that the distribution of political power in societies with large disabled populations should take into account the level of their disability, it is suggested that there might be suggested activities that help those with disabilities to participate effectively in the political system of their nation-state or community. Some suggestions for such participation include: creating or maintaining accessible forums on politics; creating accessible setasides on which policies concerning disability are discussed and voted upon; creating accessible alternatives to existing laws regarding disability; developing and maintaining policies concerning employment discrimination based on disability; providing training and access to programs that train people with disabilities to become politically active.

Politics may be difficult for those with disabilities, but it is worth the effort. After all, politics is about the management of human resources and societal capital. Disability politics is just one aspect of how the management of these resources is achieved. The other aspects of politics that must be tackled are capitalism, racism, sexism, ageism, and homophobia.

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