Accepted Paper:

Uncertain developments: exploring the significance of impaired bodies in stories of aging  


Edmund Coleman-Fountain (Newcastle University)

Paper short abstract:

The proposed paper explores the changing life worlds of young people growing-up with cerebral palsy. Addressing centrals theme of embodiment identity, and transformation, it asks how young people with impaired bodies negotiate the challenges and uncertainties associated with the move into adulthood.

Paper long abstract:

Exploring the meanings which young people with cerebral palsy attach to their bodies, identities, and transitions through the stories which they tell of themselves, the Economic and Social Research Council funded research sheds light on themes of uncertainty and disquiet by asking how disabled young people make sense of and negotiate the challenges they face as they grow up, the relationship of those challenges to embodiment, and how those challenges shape the biographical stories young people tell. Drawing on data derived from a range of innovative qualitative methodologies developed by the research team with approximately twenty young people - including qualitative interviews, participant-led photography, and online interactions - this paper explores the creative ways in which young people with physical impairments articulate who they are as they negotiate their transitions into adulthood. The paper will contribute to the literature on young people by shedding light on how bodies and disability inform the ways in which young people imagine their pasts, presents, and futures. Our focus on story-telling as a practical activity giving insight into the creative ways in which young people engage with, resist, or reconstruct the cultural narratives that shape their identities enables us to explore how the cultural scripts constituting expectations around young people's lives are troubled by disabled young bodies. The uncertainty which emerges from that troubling will be a key theme of the paper.

Panel W103
Children and youth exploring uncertain realities