Digital publication | Page 32

Material Bodies,

Ioana Cerasella Chis (University of Birmingham) recently conducted research into the paid and unpaid work undertaken by neurodivergent, disabled and chronically ill, to demonstrate that disablement oppression and exploitation through work takes place within and outside waged work. While we have it on good terms no hamster wheels or catp hooked up to wires were involved, Ciadish creator Emily Goss was a contributor.

Are Disabled People Exploited?

The report explores the questions asked by the researcher over a two year period, and while it is not yet completed, it has clearly shown that disabled people are exploited in the labour workforce. It found: “The fewer resources and means for support one has, the more work they are forced to do themselves, on their own. In other words, austerity measures, precarious working conditions, disbelief from professionals and other people, and increased charges to social care (to name but a few examples) transfer and create more (unwaged) work for disabled people. This situation leaves disabled people with little time and resources to rest, resist, support themselves and others, and organise.” 

Disabled Injustice

This is something that resonates with many in the disabled community. The study, which was conducted over interviews and diaries, found that regardless of the self-identifying language participants used, all experienced disabling injustices. It also shed light on the following: 

Gig Economy Working Conditions

High levels of uncertainty in relation to pay, workers' rights, and reasonable adjustments. 

Assisting Oneself and Others

Disabled people are sometimes forced to provide assistance work for themselves and others such as family members, friends, colleagues.. Some of this work was done due to a lack of other sources of support.

A Change is as Good as a Rest?

None of the participants had enough time and means to fully rest. Resting took place for a wide variety of reasons, but often it was done in preparation for the next day of (imposed) work. This one struck me as both the most and least surprising. 

Dealing With the Individual Model in Life

Being misunderstood and disbelieved not only by professionals but also by friends, colleagues and family was a common occurrence.

Participants had to do the work of navigating, resisting, and/or accommodating (especially) non-disabled people's prejudices. 

Social Security and Unpaid Work for

the State

Negative experiences of the social security system were reported by most, including: being sanctioned, assessors lying in their reports, and the process had a significant detriment on the mental health of some. Positive experiences were a rare occurrence.

Many were actively trying not to claim social security due to the harrowing experiences they (or people close to them) had in the past, and those who did use social security were met to rigorous demands and in some cases forced to work for the state for free. This is certainly something that we can empathise with at Ciadish: so many forms.

Precarious Work

An insightful new study by Ioana Cerasella Chis explores the lived experience of chronically ill and disabled workers, shedding light on the unacceptable levels of exploitation and unpaid labour disabled people face. Shauna Highcroft reports on the findings.