What is Research on Disability? Looking Backward to See Forward

Brian Brock* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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Designating disability as an object of research was both the condition for the emergence of the field of disability theology and a paradoxical source of its continuing aporias. One such problematic conceptual dead end is the division in the academic field of religion and disability that has arisen between traditional theological discourse and social scientific approaches to investigating disability. By highlighting the inherent instability of disability definitions on which much social scientific research rests, this paper invites renewed engagement with history and tradition as conversation partners for disability theology. By proposing a critical hermeneutic of tradition, it aims to widen and integrate the range of methodological approaches available to theological investigators of disability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 390–413
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Disability & Religion
Issue number4
Early online date5 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Open access via T&F agreement


  • disability theology
  • empirical research
  • Frances Young
  • investigative method
  • Jean Vanier


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