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Are People with Disabilities a “Minority Group”? Representativeness and Participation in Public Policies

Citizenship
Democracy
Governance
Integration
Representation
Social Policy
Fabrizio Carucci
IUAV - University Venice
Fabrizio Carucci
IUAV - University Venice
Matteo Basso
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Abstract

In the theories of “Representativeness in the Processes of Public Policy”, the rights of ethnical, religious and cultural minorities have constituted an important theme. Considering the contest of urban policies, planning theorists have proposed diverse approaches (as the advocacy planning one), including discussion on the “diversities” of points of view and expectations in projects of transformation of the cities. But how can “people with disabilities” enter in this frame of “minority rights”? Are they represented? If so, how they are? While it is true that we often talk of the marginality of immigrant people, disadvantage social categories, women and senior citizens, it is equally true that there is very little said about the integration of people with disabilities. Are the last ones considered effectively “marginal” social categories? Until now, the studies about disability are principally realized in clinical, psychological and pedagogical debates with little investigations into the quality of “citizens” and “members of the city”. It is therefore an appropriate contribution of research, both to overcome the “welfarism,” still prevalent in the welfare policies, and to invest in the civic and social integration of people with disabilities. Do “people with disabilities” then have representativeness during the processes of participatory democracy? In the paper, the world of disability has been analyzed and observed directly through the voices of “privileged actors”, (i.e. citizens with various physical deficiencies) thus overcoming the story and the interpretation given by scholars in the field. Consequently, it has been analyzed by a study of direct observation of participative budgeting in Tuscany and various experiences in Catalonia. These investigations allow to understand the means by which people with disabilities can be “represented”, especially in the processes of participatory democracy. The goal is to put the spotlight on people of disabilities, “including” them in the civic society.