Young people with intellectual disability-the role of self-advocacy in a transformed Swedish welfare system Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • A growing number of young people in Sweden with intellectual disability have organized themselves during the last 15 years in self-advocacy groups for socializing, empowerment, and expressing opposition to the norms and attitudes in a society that labels them as disabled. At the same time, the Swedish welfare system has transformed dramatically with processes of far-reaching individualization, closure of the major institutions, decentralization of responsibility from the state to local governments, and an emerging welfare market where service users are turned into customers. The aim of this article is to analyse and discuss the significance of self-advocacy in the new welfare context. Data were collected over a period of more than 10 years using repeated interviews with members of two self-advocacy groups and participation observations. Findings suggest that participation in self-advocacy groups opens up members for increasing health and well-being through new roles and identities, and it strengthens their control over everyday life. Support is still needed, however, but in new ways; otherwise, the restrictions of the institutions will simply be reconstructed in the new welfare system.

publication date

  • 2015