This paper analyses disability assessment, conceived as a dominant way of assigning disability status within the modern welfare state. It explores the procedure and outcome of the assessment in their intrinsic relation to defining humanness by utilising an approach which is novel for disability studies – a Heideggerian, existential-phenomenological critique of the modern reduction of human beings to objects and/or resources. This critical philosophical framework is supported by a sociological analysis, drawing on the science and technology studies concept of ‘boundary object’. Using the legally codified disability assessment in Bulgaria as its case study, the paper nevertheless formulates broader conclusions concerning the reduction of disabled people to deficient bodies and inefficient resources, linking it to the modern domination of medicalisation and productivism. In conclusion, it proposes an alternative, holistic view of what it means to be a human being, drawing on Heidegger’s notion of ‘being-in-the-world’ and his critique of modernity.
- disability assessment
- existential phenomenology
- science and technology studies
- boundary object