The Experiences of People with Learning Difficulties Living in a Rural Area

Liz Ellis

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (not awarded by UHI)

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    This thesis concerns the intersections between rurality, disability and
    community. Using inclusive research approaches in conjunction with a
    Critical Disability Studies perspective, the research explored the lived
    experiences of a small group of adults who identify as having learning
    difficulties. These four, Natasha, Stuart, John and Mark, worked with me as
    co-researchers, helping me to develop the themes and focus of the research,
    whilst acting as ‘insider’ guides to their local areas.

    The research methods needed to be accessible to the co-researchers
    and capture the spatial aspects of their local environments. The methods also
    had to address the challenges of geographical distance, demands on the co-researchers’ time and the time sensitive nature of the project. To meet these
    needs and challenges, a flexible and creative approach using mobile
    methods, specifically themed research ‘trips’ was developed. The data was
    then analysed using thematic analysis. Whilst there was some co-analysis,
    the final analysis of the data is my own.

    Although the research was overtly about disability and rurality, it was
    set in the context of the 2010-2015 Coalition government and increasing
    welfare cuts. It illustrates how communities support people and give a sense
    of belonging in such a context.

    I suggest that communities ideally function as communities if they are
    stable, because stable communities have the depth of kith and kinship that
    help create organic, rhizomatic networks of support. I argue that demand for
    a cheap, flexible and crucially, mobile, workforce undermines communities
    and diminishes interpersonal connections
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The Open University
    • Lomax, Helen, Supervisor, External person
    • Walmsley, Jan, Supervisor, External person
    Award date20 Mar 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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