Sometimes Allies: Parent-Led Disability Organizations and Social Movements


  • Allison C. Carey Shippensburg University
  • Pamela Block Stony Brook University
  • Richard K. Scotch University of Texas at Dallas



parent activism, social movements, alliance


Despite the recent growth of scholarship on parent activism related to disability, the existing literature tends to focus on specific organizations and time periods and draw on a social psychological approach to examine the motivations of parents in becoming activists. This paper considers disability activism as a field of social movement organizations and focuses on disability organizations led by parents and their relationship to organizations led by activists with disabilities. Using qualitative methods informed by theoretically focused coding and grounded situational analysis, we examine the public framing of four national parent-led organizations that are politically prominent. Through this field approach, the analysis reveals the diversity of parent-led organizations, commonalities and the fault lines among these organizations, and the factors which effect the likelihood of alliances between organizations led by parents and those led by activists with disabilities.