Walking small with ‘Paul’, a man with ‘severe learning difficulties’: on (not) passing in purportedly public places

Alexander Gray Cockain

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This article primarily accounts for walks taken in purportedly public places with ‘Paul’, a middle-aged man who is currently diagnosed as having ‘severe learning difficulties’. These walks offer windows into the ways in which dis/ableist discourses and the powerful abstractions they produce descend to the level of practice, seeping into seemingly innocuous spaces, and the interactions and subjectivities therein. Through these encounters, persons become complicit in the production, maintenance and reinforcement of non-disabled (or abled)/disabled identities. This article nevertheless attempts to destabilize and defetishize the ontological categories that these encounters realize, and to recognize the vitality and presence set aside or concealed behind these concepts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-722
Number of pages18
JournalDisability and Society
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2018


  • abstractions/reductions
  • fetishize/defetishize (autism)
  • non-disabled (or abled)/disabled binary
  • passing
  • Severe learning difficulties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Professions(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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