Independent Living in Europe and Beyond: Past, Present, and Future (Special Issue Editorial)

Teo Mladenov, Ines Bulic Cojocariu, Lilia Angelova-Mladenova, Natasa Kokic, Kamil Goungor

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This article introduces this special issue of the International Journal of Disability and Social Justice focusing on Independent Living, understood both as a social movement and an analytic paradigm. The aim of the special issue is to mark the 50th anniversary of the first Centre for Independent Living, as well as the tenth occurrence of the Freedom Drive, a biennial advocacy event organised by the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL). We first explain the significance of these two initiatives, tracing their history and rationale in terms of disabled people’s struggle for self-determination. We then discuss the meaning of Independent Living and associated definitional struggles. In the main part of the article, we explore the relations between Independent Living and the state, the market, and the family. This helps us to understand Independent Living as critique of professional power, self-sufficiency, and parental authority. The practical implications of these critiques are explored by looking at current struggles for deinstitutionalisation and personal assistance. We conclude by presenting the pillars of Independent Living and their consideration in the contributions to this special issue.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-23
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Disability and Social Justice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2023


  • disability studies
  • social policy
  • independent living
  • self-determination
  • social movements
  • professionals
  • neoliberalism
  • parents
  • familialism


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