My research interests are primarily centred around disability, health and illness, embodiment, sexualities and aspects of the body. I also have interest in disability rights and activism, and disability at a structural and sociopolitical level, particularly around social care policy and legislation, and the new multi-strand approach to national and localised equality and diversity agendas.
My PhD research focuses on the sexualities of physically disabled and sensory impaired people. Society de-genders and de-sexualises the lives and bodies of disabled people (Shakespeare 2000; Thomas 1999; Morris 1991). Thus within society disabled peoples’ sexuality/ies, for the most part, remain positioned as non-existent or sexually inadequate. Where sexuality is acknowledged, it becomes dark or fetishized (sexual abuse/devoteeism), or immoral (facilitated sex/sex workers). My research, currently in its analysis stage, focuses on the ways that such constructions, which are maintained through structural, physical, social and cultural spheres, affect the lived experiences of sexuality and relationships for disabled people. More specifically, how individuals understand the immediate life world shapes their sexual opportunities and identities, how they employ strategies in order to manage and negotiate their sexuality in the face of such constructions and how these strategies change over time. Through a narrative and multi-method approach, men and women with physical and sensory impairments have voiced their individual ‘sexual stories’ on their terms, thus a further focus is on the ways in which people narrate their 'sexual stories' and present their experiences.
Research Advisory Group
I am also running a Research Advisory Group made up of disabled people alongside the research.
The Research Advisory Group guides the research process, offers expert knowedge, and ensures that the research be accessible, engaging and empowering for the individuals who take part.
It also seeks to destabilise traditional power imbalances between the researcher and the researched, which, particularly in this context, can be seen by disabled people as mirroring the inequalities they experience within wider society.
It is hoped that my approach will go some way towards improving how disabled people engage with social research, that they see it as of value, and most importantly, that it is meaningful and transfers to the reality of their everyday lives.