2016 Past Oral Defences

Cameron Crawford

Dissertation Title: "Untying the Knots: Furthering Decent New Employment After the Advent of Work-Limiting Disability"

Committee Members: (Chair) N. Davis Halifax, (Outside Member) C.J. Graham, (Supervisor) I.M. Killoran, (External) R. Brown, (Member) T.R. Klassen
Date of Defence: April 19, 2016
University, Degree and Year: York University, PhD, 2016
Current Email: 

Abstract: For many years, people with disabilities have been about two-thirds as likely as people without disabilities to be employed in Canada. The employment rate of some people with disabilities has persistently hovered at around one-third the rate of non-disable people. Financial estimates of the cost of this problem in Canada differ considerably, but are on the order of many billions of dollars annually. The human costs are also major. This issue is enmeshed in a tangle of theories about disablement that can point in very different directions in terms of understanding the nature of the issue, some solutions that would address it, and the policy and program implications. For example, there is the interplay between disability and people's age, gender, visible minority and Aboriginal person status. Different rates of employment flow from whether people experience impairment effects in the areas of mobility, seeing, hearing, cognition or emotional well-being; many people contend with impairment effects across several functional domains. People's geographic locations and the vagaries of regional economies need to be factored into the picture, as do the effects of social assistance and other income support programs. People's employment history, their needs for job accommodations, and whether those needs have been addressed, are crucial considerations that can vary according to type of disability, the nature of the work to be performed, and employer attitudes, values and fiscal capacity. People's educational attainment and job-specific skills training also have a major bearing on employment trajectories. This research begins to untie the knot that binds these factors into an often-confusing conceptual, policy and program tangle. It identifies some of the key factors that most strongly predict whether people are likely to obtain "decent work" with their first employer or with a new employer after the advent of work-limiting disability. An aim of the research is to suggest areas for focusing policy and program efforts in order to maximize positive employment outcomes for such individuals, employers and the broader employment 'system'. The research draws extensively from scholarly and administrative literature and from Statistics Canada's Canadian Survey on Disability of 2012.

2014 Past Oral Defences

Gillian Parekh
Dissertation Title: "Social citizenship and disability: Identity, belonging, and the structural organization of education."
Committee Members: (Chair) R Brown, (Supervisor) R. Gorman, (Member) I. Killoran.
Date of Defence: July 24, 2014
University, Degree and Year: York University, PhD, 2014
Current Email: Gillian.Parekh@tdsb.on.ca

Abstract: Drawing upon critical disability, transnational, and citizenship theory, this thesis proposes employing a new framework of analysis, centralizing the experience of social citizenship and belonging as an indicator of broader structural equity. Situated in the field of education, theoretical considerations query how growing market fundamentalism contributes to the systematic exclusion of historically marginalized identities in school. This body of work includes three related studies exploring historical and current incidences of institutional exclusion. Results provided quantitative evidence of the social construction of disability categories and demonstrated increased exclusion for racialized students, students living in poverty, and students identified with exceptionalities.

Joanna Rankin
Dissertation Title: "Chatter that Matters: A new path to progressive understandings of disability through the online discussion of popular novels."
Committee Members: X (Chair); Prof. Jay Dolmange (External); Prof. Eva (Internal); Prof. John Radford (Supervisor); Prof. Marcia Rioux (Member); Prof. Beth Haller (Member).
Date of Defence: October 27, 2014
University, Degree and Year: York University, PhD, 2014
Current email: Joanna.rankin@yahoo.ca

Abstract: Looking to the novel as a source of information for real lives, this paper investigates the role of the popular culture book club and the informal discussion of novels in the recognition of and response to disability in contemporary society. The sample included in this research looks at both the novels chosen for the Oprah’s Book Club as well as readers’ online posts about characters with disabilities. The online, middlebrow discussion of novels is assessed as a productive and developing public sphere related to the discussion of disability. Within this context readers demonstrate their interest in and ability to challenge ideas about disability.

Madeline Burghardt
Dissertation Title: "Narratives of separation: Institutions, families, and the construction of difference."
Committee Members: (Chair) M. Rioux. (Supervisor), G. Reaume (Member) N. Groce
Date of Defense: June 13, 2014
University, Degree and Year: York University, PhD, 2014
Current e-mail: madelinb@yorku.ca

Abstract: This project explores family relationships and understandings of disability when a family member, labelled intellectually disabled, is institutionalized for an extended period of time. Thirty-six in-depth interviews were conducted with members of several families, including parents, siblings, and those who were themselves institutionalized in Ontario, Canada in the decades following World War II. Participants expressed divergent understandings of institutionalization’s impact on the family; interpretations were dependent on one’s emotional and social location in relation to institutionalization. Findings demonstrate how institutionalization affected relations of power within the family, and the significant role that discursive constructions of intellectual disability have had on participants’ understandings of disability and of each other.

2013 Past Oral Defences

Jennifer Rinaldi
Dissertation Title: "Autonomy, Equality, and Respect for Difference: Investigating Principle-Based Approaches to Technologically Mediated Reproductive Contexts."
Committee Members: (Chair) Nancy Viva Davis Halifax, (Supervisor) Prof. Roxanne Mykitiuk, (Member) B.Katz.
Date of Defense: April 30, 2013
University, Degree and Year: York University, PhD, 2013
Current Email: Jen.Rinaldi@uoit.ca

Abstract: The author explores the formulation of bioethical and jurisprudential principles and their application to reproductive decision-making that incorporates disability diagnostic technologies. She considers whether the use of autonomy rhetoric to frame reproductive issues carries the implication that women are presumed to have personal responsibilities in relation to pregnancy especially when fetal impairments can be or have been diagnosed. She goes on to investigate conceptualizations of equality, applied both to access to reproductive services and ableism when those services are used to yield a diagnosis of disability. Finally, the author develops a feminist poststructural framework, an alternative to a principle-based approach, which calls for respect for difference.