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Experiences of disabilities in life and online: Life course perspectives on disabled people from past society to present

Research project Combining quantitative and qualitative analyses the project finds out how disabled people fare both in past and present Sweden, and how today’s mass media perceive them or through which they manifest themselves and inreasingly online where disabilities might be less limiting.

Estimations suggest that people with disabilities comprise a significant group in Europe today of some 65 million persons (10%). Yet they are remarkably insignificant in society and research. To make them and their agency become more evident, this project identifies the life experience of disabled people from a long historical perspective that goes back 200 years until today. We research two themes: 1. Participation in social life and society by the disabled people, their health and well-being 2. Their lived experiences and identity formation in everyday life and online

Head of project

Project overview

Project period:

2014-07-01 2018-06-30


Stiftelsen Marcus och Amalia Wallengbergs Minnesfond, 2014-2018: SEK 5,000,000

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

Research area

Demography, History, Media and communications

Project description

Research theme 1 makes use of Sweden’s long-term digitized population databases that reflect how disability interferes with human life indicated by individuals’ chances to marry, migrate, find occupation and avoid premature death. The statistical results enables the project to differentiate the impact different disabilities have on human life with regard to other demographic characteristics and socio-economic circumstances that help shape the inclusion of disabled people in society across time.

Research theme 2 analyses the mass media to identify current preconceptions of the life of disabled people today. We also analyze how they engage in everyday life on the Internet and in sports to establish relationships and networks, which can promote the identity and social capital among people, disabled or not.

Keywords: disability, gender, Sweden, digitized data, mass media, social media,
Latest update: 2018-06-29