Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Disability as Multitude: Re-working Non-Productive Labor Power

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2010), 4, (2), 179–194.

Abstract

People with disabilities are often relegated to the status of "non-productive labor power" as a key aspect of their social depreciation. Marxist tradition situates potential and unemployable workers as members of the "surplus labor force" (those who embody potential labor and therefore exert downward pressure on wages and job security), but this designation fails to adequately capture those situated essentially outside of Capitalism. While theorists must continue to critique the ravages of poverty that result from chronic unemployment, the article employs Hardt and Negri's concept of multitude as a means of imagining alternative value for "non-productive bodies" (Empire)—particularly in their ability to form alternative networks of existence and resistance to normative relations of consumption, competition, and class conflict. Such an active engagement with concepts of corporeality (i.e. the body as active mediator of the world rather than passive surface of imprintation) is critical to a more fully politicized realization of disability as instrumental to what Spinoza called the "radical potential of true democracy."

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Author details

Mitchell, David

Snyder, Sharon