Unsolicited Advice: An Examination of the Affective Politics in Disabled Peoples' Lives

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Ingram, Megan
Disability , Unsolicited advice , Affect , Shame , Resistance , Politics of emotion
The prevalence of unsolicited advice in the lives of disabled people is well catalogued through the mass of news articles, op-eds, and social media posts dedicated to the issue. However, less is known about the affective impacts of this advice on disabled people and the potential resistance that may be enacted towards negative affects directed towards them such as resentment, fear, and pity. The present work aims to explore the links between emotion, mind, and body that occur in interactions involving unsolicited advice between disabled and non-disabled individuals. Using narrative accounts from fifteen semi-structured qualitative interviews with disabled individuals in Ontario, Canada, the research addresses: 1) The affective impacts of unsolicited advice on disabled people. 2) Strategies disabled people use to manage the emotional impact resulting from unsolicited advice and “blame culture" (Hughes 2015), individually and collectively. 3) The ways disabled individuals emote or ‘perform’ their subject positioning in response to this unsolicited advice. Ultimately, this research argues that while unsolicited advice acts as a method of blaming and shaming, wherein non-disabled individuals work to soothe their own discomfort with disability and the broader neoliberal political context, disabled people resist feeling 'ashamed' and strategically react to and deploy emotion in response to unsolicited advice in resistant and empowering ways. The availability of emotional responses to different parties within the interaction, as well as the strategic deployment of emotion by disabled people indicates a politics of emotion, and, more specifically, a politics of shame.
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