AN ECLECTIC APPROACH TO DISABILITY RESEARCH: A MAJORITY WORLD PERSPECTIVE Majid Turmusani* ABSTRACT This paper argues that the "emancipatory paradigm", which is the research machinery commonly used to explore the social model of disability, provides a limited tool for investigating disability concerns. Although, this approach emphasizes greater control of disabled people over the research process and its production, examples on disability policy research in Afghanistan where the author works proved it to be not universal. This limitation, it is argued, is due to its inherent theoretical limitation when focusing merely on political issues, especially in developing world contexts. Also argued here, is the need for adopting a broader perspective in doing disability researches, such as a participatory one, which incorporates other relevant research approaches and theoretical views within its remits. In a participatory approach, issues of cultural diversity including contextual factors such as religion, political and economic systems are taken into account in the analysis of disability. On a larger scale, this may also call for the endorsement of an eclectic theoretical approach based on "Human Rights" ideals. A Human Rights perspective, with its near universal statements, will also incorporate other views on disability such as medical, social, feminist, and post-modernist analysis. This paper attempts to answer the question of why research is important at all to disabled people and how the choice of a research method makes all the difference when dealing with disabled people for the purpose of planning policy and services.
INTRODUCTION In recent years, the re conceptualisation of disability as a socio-political issue has been coupled with changes in the practice of disability research, towards more of a interpretive "emancipatory" paradigm (1). This movement does not lessen the value of other approaches
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to researching disability (e.g. positivist approaches). All approaches add important insights into the understanding of disability issues. Approaches with the non-emancipatory paradigm are, of paramount relevance to disabled people, especially in developing countries where disability policies and provisions are still highly dominated by medical approaches to rehabilitation. The value of the socio-political framework, which underpins research in such settings, is often in question. CRITIQUE OF THE EMANCIPATORY PARADIGM OF DISABILITY RESEARCH Research is an essential part of the social inquiry concerning disabled people. In order to plan services for disabled people and in listing priorities, decision-makers require a research method to assess their needs. How best a method can then reflect the real needs in different cultural settings, becomes an important methodological concern in disability debate. All research methods have some flaws, and therefore, a relativist cultural approach, in researching and evaluating projects targeting disabled people in various contexts, seems more appropriate. Research can be inherently political, and plays an important role in transforming and changing the world, and not only in describing it. In other words, the impact of research goes far beyond theoretical circles, into the life of society. The adoption of a particular research method for example, will influence the suggested solution put forward to deal with disability issues (i.e. influencing societal policies and provisions concerning disabled people). This is the reason why the choice of research method becomes a political decision and should be dealt with as such. Generally speaking, there are two major approaches in doing disability research namely, the participatory and emancipatory paradigms. Both these approaches support a move away from the traditional methods of studying...