Changing Times: Self-disclosure and the Representational Styles of Legislators with Physical Disabilities

Richard K. Scotch, Sally Friedman


As a number of factors have produced more opportunities for people with disabilities, entry into the political arena is a logical consequence. Questions about what challenges such individuals will face as politicians and how they will choose to "represent" and focus on disability concerns become paramount. We profile the disability-oriented activities of two politicians (Bob Dole and James Langevin) representative of different cultural eras in the disability rights movement. Despite differences in constituencies and ideologies, findings suggest, as has been true for other underrepresented groups, politicians with disabilities will be more likely to represent disability issues. Because Langevin has been more public than Dole about disclosing aspects of his disability, findings also highlight the impact of a changed cultural context, a member's background, personality and other circumstances on aspects of his political activity.



self-disclosure; legislators; Bob Dole; James Langevin

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Copyright (c) 2015 Richard K. Scotch, Sally Friedman

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ISSN: 2159-8371 (Online); 1041-5718 (Print)