Disability, socialism and autonomy in the 1970s: case studies from Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the 1970s, grassroots disability movements in many countries changed the thinking around disability and disability politics. Nonetheless, they were also part of larger political upheavals in the western world. How were they inspired by the socialist, feminist, and gay and lesbian movements? In addition, how did they relate to non-disabled allies? Organisations in Denmark and Sweden are investigated and compared to early disability-rights movements in the United Kingdom. Independently of each other, all groups developed materialist models, although only in Sweden and the United Kingdom did this lead to a linguistic distinction between ‘impairment’ and ‘disability’. Danish activists would rather use provocative language, while developing a social understanding of disability. They were also the only ones to discuss gender and sexuality. There are more similarities than differences between the movements, although the Danish specificities contributed to improvements in how Danes with disabilities can develop a positive sex life.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


  • 1970s, Disability, gender, Scandinavia, sexuality, United Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1637-1659
Number of pages23
JournalDisability and Society
Issue number9-10
Early online date2019 May 8
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch