Mark Priestley addresses the relationship between the politics of disability and community care policies. Guided by his direct work with representatives of the disabled people's movement, he argues that although the ideas behind social policy and practice have started to reflect values such as participation, integration and equality, the current policy and its implementation often undermine those goals. `Community care' still contributes to the view of disabled people as dependent and different, thus reinforcing their social exclusion and marginalisation.
Disability Politics and Community Care encourages health and welfare professionals and policy makers to start working much more closely with disabled people themselves. Priestley argues that involving disabled people in the design and production of their own welfare will break down the disabling boundary between service `provider' and `user' and will result in the reality of integrated living. He presents practical suggestions for the changes necessary for the proposed reorganisation of service provision which will re-define direct work with disabled people.
This is an important book for those engaged in the delivery or study of welfare. Priestley's study confirms many others which have attempted to examine the impact of individual model approaches to the delivery of `care' services, and his analysis of the importance of the disabled people's movement to redefining the role of welfare is a strong and welcome addition to the growing body of literature in this field. He started the study by putting the research agenda clearly within the hands of disabled people and has succeeded in putting the case that this is what should should be done with the welfare agenda. -- Sociological Research Online In a clear and well-organised text, the author offers a careful assessment of the kinds of change needed for the construction of genuinely emancipatory services...Taken as a whole, the suggestions for restructuring community care may be radical, but they are by no means Utopian. Priestley is eminently realistic about the difficulties that confront disabled people in their relations with a public sector still dominated by medical or `personal tragedy' understandings of disability, and he is careful to ground his arguements in the experience and achievements of disabled people in real-life examples...The author's unique perspective arises...from close co-operation with the Derbyshire CDP, so that the book benefits from the direct input of disabled people. The particular strength of this approach is that theory, values and power are discussed not merely as abstract concepts of interest only to academics, but as much more tangible factors which carry direct consequences for environmental change and integrated living. Priestley achieves, therefore, not only a cogent and powerful analysis of community care policy, its principles and outcomes, but also an assessment of the changes required if the exclusion of disabled people is to end. -- International Social Work ...[this] may well be a set book for the near future, when disabled people's experience has become the model and inspiration for tackling barriers of exclusion. In the way that Colin Barnes' Disabled People in Britain and Discrimination in 1991 helped to break the deadlock in progress towards anti-discrimination legislation, Priestley's book could help take a step nearer to a "new profession" of the kind envisaged by Finkelstein and Stuart (1996). -- Disability and Society