Why work? Disability, family care and employment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article seeks to examine the ways in which ‘work’ is a crucial domain within a holistic approach to understanding disability and family life. The research is based on the experiences of 49 people who either self-identified as disabled or were family members of a person with an impairment. The analysis focuses on the meaningfulness of work and argues that the meaning of work needs to be expanded in order to be more inclusive of disabled people. Issues of accessing and maintaining appropriate work and harmful work are also discussed. The research highlights the importance of work, both paid and unpaid, for disabled people and their families. However, the wrong kinds of work can have harmful consequences for disabled people and this needs to be acknowledged in policy focusing on access to work.

Points of interest:
• The study explores the experiences of paid work and non-involvement in paid work of disabled people and their families.
• The participants discussed the value of different kinds of work for disabled people
• The research highlights the importance of unpaid work for disabled people, including
voluntary work and activism.
• Some participants faced constraints accessing and maintaining appropriate work and careers
• Some work and ways of working can be harmful to the health of disabled people
. Disabled people and their families make significant contributions to society


Original languageEnglish
JournalDisability & Society
Early online date22 Nov 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Nov 2020


  • Disability, family care, harmful work, meaning of work, unpaid work