Nothing to be had 'off the peg': consumption, identity and the immobilization of young disabled people

Bill Hughes, Rachel Russell, Kevin Paterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Contemporary sociology makes the case that the concepts of society and social structure are past their sell-by dates. Our world is marked by impermanence and social life is characterised by mobilities. Even self-identity has become liquid. Social actors use consumption artefacts and services to re-design themselves in ways that are commensurate with their deepest desires. However, we argue that disabled people are unlikely to recognise themselves in these debates. Young disabled people, in their quest for identity and consumer citizenship, meet with ubiquitous barriers and closed markets. In their experience choice and mobility are rhetorical. They encounter immobilization and exclusion from the kinds of consumer lifestyles that their non-disabled peers take for granted. Furthermore, we argue, that at the heart of consumer culture is an aesthetic of youthfulness that is profoundly alien to 'the anomaly'. The signifiers of 'youth' and disability are in profound tension. Cultures of consumption are constituted in ways that mark young disabled people off as outsiders who need not apply for entry.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDisability and Society
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005


  • identity
  • consumption
  • disability
  • youth


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