Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Martino, Wayne J.


Through narrative inquiry (NI), this dissertation investigates how boys and men with physical disabilities (BMPDs) come to embody particular subject positions as disabled and masculine subjects. Such a study is important given that disability is often perceived as being at odds with Western notions of masculinity (Connell, 2005) and that schools are a major site of masculinity formation (Connell, 2000). Furthermore, within the context of what has been identified as the “boy turn” in educational policy and research (Weaver-Hightower, 2003), a focus on boys with disabilities has not been included. Using Butlerian theories on performativity, materiality of the body and precarity as well as Foucauldian analytics of power, the NI examines how institutions such as schools inscribe ableist and masculine norms surrounding independence, bodily integrity, productivity and heteronormative relationships. A detailed analysis of personal narratives drawn from in-depth interviews of two participants illustrates how each negotiates his masculinity and humanness from locations of precarity within ableist systems that seek to render him invisible and abject. The participants respond in iterative and improvisational ways to sustain lives that are viable. Their stories contribute to a nuancing of the social processes of embodiment. As an alternative to ableist norms of independence and autonomy, their stories explore interdependence as an ethos. The dissertation also raises ethical questions pertaining to researcher/researched dynamics and argues for a need to engage in critical conversations with subjugated classes in order to open up fields of possibility for generating knowledge about disablility and ableism that refuses neocolonial appropriation of voice.

Keywords: narrative inquiry, performativity, materiality, precarity, masculinities, physical disabilities, intersectionality, ableism, embodiment, analytics of power, Foucault, Butler, Connell, situated knowledges