Articles | Volume 68, issue 3
Standard article
07 Oct 2013
Standard article |  | 07 Oct 2013

Whose identity politics? – Lessons for emerging critical disability geography in Hungary

J. Timár and Sz. Fabula

Abstract. In response to the economic crisis in 2009, the Hungarian government reduced the level of support for the employment of impaired people. The withdrawal of this state support has not only resulted in a massive wave of dismissals, but has also transformed some peripheral settlements into spaces of resistance. The research presented in this paper was conducted to understand the nature of political actions organised in Békés County (one of Hungary's disadvantaged regions) in order to support the social employment of impaired people. By analysing these political actions we have highlighted certain contradictions of applying the concept of identity politics in a post-socialist context, and the advantages of a combined, biosocial model. On the one hand, the outline of the political and economic situation helped us understand that the analysed social protests only resembled identity politics. In reality, they may even have contributed to the reproduction of ableism. On the other hand, by integrating individual experiences into the social model of disability we could also reveal that according to our impaired interviewees, it is not only their impairments and/or disabilities that render daily life difficult. Their firm call for changes in both economic and regional policy suggests that the deliberate and combined use of identity and class politics would be particularly important. Overall, our results suggest that it is essential for scholars in Hungary to engage more strongly in critical disability geography and to thus help the approach take root and develop further.