"Family Planning?" Exploring imaginaries of parenthood in young people with learning disabilities

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Geog, Politics and Sociology


Parenthood can be understood as a choice and consequence of ordinary adulthood; it
confirms adult status and shapes self-image and identity. However whilst there is growing
acknowledgement that young people with learning disabilities should be recognised as
sexual actors, questions regarding choices and desires for parenthood, remain underexplored
within the academic literature.
Medical and social visionaries of disability have deemed 'normativity' as a prized cultural
status which appear to deny that young people with learning disabilities could or indeed
should be parents. Those that do become parents are a priori assumed to be incompetent,
while for many young people with learning disabilities, parenthood remains unrealised,
suggesting little more than a 'metaphorical' possibility.
The aim of this research is to examine parenthood imaginaries in young people with
learning disabilities. It seeks to explore how they think about the possibilities of
parenthood, and to further understand how their familial and broader social worlds may
influence what they imagine. By combining different qualitative methodological
approaches, it aims to use a mosaic of accounts that create a space for young people with
learning disabilities to express their perspectives. The proposed techniques will
synthesise a range of approaches that draw on face-face semi-structured interviews and
video diaries.


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