University of Illinois at Chicago

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Disability Movements and Service Worker Unions: Analysis of Inter-Movement Conflict and Collaboration

posted on 2023-08-01, 00:00 authored by Amy E Heider
Disabled people and unionized labor encounter overlapping oppression through shared conflict with a cultural and economic system that categorizes people as commodities that are standardizable or disposable. This dissertation will explore the convergence of disability and labor as social movements. The space that is shared between personal assistance workers and disabled people functions as both home and workplace. This complicates the interactions between these movements as the actions of service worker unions and disability movements have potential to affect one another’s daily lives. As a result, a fundamental power struggle between movements exists while both movements are resisting the more significant power of the state. This dissertation uses critical discourse analysis to analyze key tenets of service worker unions and disability movements, highlighting interactions at both macro and micro levels. The research considers the current and historical relationship between disability and service worker unions, analyzing representation of both allyship and othering; the current and historical union positions on issues of importance for disability movements such as institutionalization; and the discursive and social context of the interactions between disability movements and service worker unions in two local Chicago case studies. The analysis reveals discourses and tensions that cross both movements and findings point to a more contemporary understanding of disability and labor movements. This research aims to contribute insights for ongoing movement strategy and collaboration.



Parker Harris, Sarah


Parker Harris, Sarah


Disability and Human Development

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

Gould, Robert Charlton, James Sufian, Sandra Daniel, Jamie

Submitted date

August 2023

Thesis type



  • en

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