• Learning disabilities;
  • resilience;
  • self-advocacy;
  • social model


The present paper explores the social model of disability and its significance for people with learning difficulties. The authors argue that, while the social model has been adopted as an explicit framework for analysis by many people with physical and sensory impairments, its impact on people with learning difficulties, and the non-disabled people who write about them or research with them has been much less marked. In the first part of the present paper, the authors examine why the social model appears to have neglected learning difficulty and why learning difficulty researchers have not utilized the social model as a means for understanding the experiences of people with learning difficulties. Drawing on research with self-advocates, the second part of this paper discusses the way that many people with learning difficulties can be seen to engage with ideas inherent to the social model. However, the political nature of many of the everyday actions of people with learning difficulties, which impinges on the social model, is not recognized. Consequently, it has not been theorized.