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Disability and Welfare under Monopoly Capitalism

Disability rights activist outside Scottish Parliament, 30 March 2013

Disability rights activist outside Scottish Parliament, 30 March 2013. By Brian McNeil - Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link.

David Matthews is a lecturer in sociology and social policy at Coleg Llandrillo, Wales, and the leader of its degree program in health and social care.

Beyond the COVID pandemic, the relative global burden of communicable disease has declined. Non-communicable conditions such as strokes, cardiovascular disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have increased as causes of global mortality. They have also contributed to the growing prevalence of disability. In 2017, an estimated 80 percent of all disabilities globally were caused by non-communicable diseases, with lower back pain, headaches, and depressive disorders the leading causes.1 By 2018, approximately 15 percent of the world’s population had a disability, with up to 190 million adults having functional difficulties.2

Following the biomedical model, disability is frequently conceptualized as a biological phenomenon and equated with impairment. Irrefutably, many individuals experience impairments that restrict their lives, and it would be churlish to deny the real benefits medical interventions have made to alleviating distress. Yet it would be a mistake to perceive all such individuals as inherently disabled.

Over four decades ago, the Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation, an organization of socialist-inspired British disability activists, argued that a distinction must be made between impairment and disability.3 In this, disability must be understood as a social concept encapsulating the oppression and exclusion experienced by individuals with impairments.4 It originates from the socioeconomic conditions of capitalism. It is a social status predicated on, and portraying, the incompatibility between the corporeal functionality of an individual with an impairment and the requirements of the production process. In what follows, I offer a historical-materialist analysis of the relationship between disability, the body, welfare, and capitalism in order to further develop a Marxist understanding of disability. I also assess how the British welfare state, given recent changes to British disability policy, determines who is able-bodied and who is disabled, with this evaluation made in regard to the needs of monopoly capitalism.

Marx and Engels: The Body and Capitalism

Under capitalism, disability is considered an inherent biological characteristic of individuals who have physical, cognitive, or mental health impairments, resulting in their functioning being limited relative to what is deemed societally “normal.” Conceptions of able-bodied and disabled, influenced by the biomedical model, are determined by notions of biological normality and understandings of physiological acceptability. Disability and impairment are generally constructed as interchangeable. However, from a Marxist perspective, a distinction must exist between impairment and disability. While accepting the existence of impairment as a biological reality, and not denying the role of sociocultural determinants that operate at the superstructural level, it is important to recognize that the single most significant determinant of disability is the organization of the mode of production based on the maximization of profit. Economic exploitation, Marta Russell argued, contributes greatly to determining who is both disabled and able-bodied.5 For capital, labor power—the capacity to work—is the source of value. Thus, bodies that can be exploited in the labor process are paramount. As a result, the inability to work is instrumental in identifying individuals considered disabled. Thus, disability is a social status representing the social and economic disadvantages experienced by individuals with impairments, illustrating their oppression and marginalization, with the most prominent reason for this being an incompatibility between their corporeality and the requirements of exploitative wage labor.

Although neither Karl Marx nor Frederick Engels developed a theory of disability, the origins of one can be identified within their analysis of the relationship between capitalism and the body. Labor, Marx argued, is a corporeal phenomenon requiring the “exertion of the bodily organs” with the laborer setting “in motion arms and legs, head and hands, the natural forces of his body.”6 The labor process, Marx asserted, dictates bodily actions, greatly determining what type of bodily capacity is required to function within the labor market. This gives rise to the idea of a normative bodily capacity, with individuals having to possess a particular corporeal potential to function as part of the labor force in general, operating as “conscious organs,” who “co-ordinate with the unconscious organs of the automaton.”7 Capital subsequently imposes conditions on workers, with their bodies having to adapt to the tempo, demands, and expectations of the labor process. Workers synchronize their own movements “to the uniform and unceasing motion of an automation.”8 In this shift, “the machine makes use of [workers]…it is the movements of the machine that [they] must follow.”9

The expectation of a correspondence between corporeal ability and operational needs of the labor process, nonetheless, engenders a possible antagonistic relationship between body and machine if bodily capabilities do not conform to the productive potential of the means of production and labor process. Invoking the concept of “weak bodies,” Marx was adamant that the profitability of the means of production was constrained by the limitations of the normative human body.10 Representing a clash between natural biological “givens” and science, the material composition and corporeal capacity of the body restricts the full inherent productivity of the means of production, preventing individuals from keeping up with the full potential of the productive process. The means of production may go on producing indefinitely, being a possible source of perpetual motion and production, but only, Marx announced, if not met “with certain natural obstructions in the weak bodies and the strong wills of its human attendants.”11

The implications of Marx’s position is that individuals whose corporeal capacity varies from the standards of the normative body have the potential to be considered a greater obstacle to the production process. Any impairment would possibly limit the potential of the productive apparatus further than that which arises from the limitations already possessed by the normative body. From this, there then emerges the notion of some bodies having less economic value than others. Accordingly, the social exclusion of many disabled individuals is firmly grounded within capitalism’s rejection of them as a source of economic value due to the incompatibility between their corporeal nature and the requirements of the labor process. As Russell argues, “a primary basis of oppression of disabled persons…is their exclusion from exploitation as wage laborers.”12

Although not investigating disability, Marx and Engels did not avoid the issue of impairment. Passionately, they denounced how production inflicted physical degradation on the laboring masses, arguing that the scars of the class struggle were laid bare on the bodies of the working class. Capitalism, Marx argued, “squanders human lives…and not only blood and flesh, but also nerve and brain.”13 Attentive observation of this was made by Engels, who exemplified the direct suffering capitalism wreaked on the body.14 Integrating the body with the operational requirements of the labor process, Engels stressed that impairments were customary. Frequent bending and stooping, which characterized factory production, resulted in deformities of workers’ backs, shoulders, and knees.15 Industrialization, Engels argued, contributed to “multitudes of accidents of a more or less serious nature, which have for the operative the secondary effect of unfitting him for his work more or less completely.”16 Impairment, Engels claimed, reduces the ability to labor and acts as a barrier to its sale as individuals no longer possess the optimal physical functioning to participate. Thus, their use value as a form of labor is reduced, being in less demand as a source of economic exploitation. Here, the basis of a Marxist understanding of disability is further illuminated, as Engels depicts the economic and social exclusion individuals with impairments may experience. Excluded from labor, Marx stressed that individuals with impairments joined the ranks of the reserve army of labor, unable to work and whose existence was largely of pauperism.17 Described as “demoralised” and “ragged,” they were, Marx argued, “victims of industry, whose number increases with the increase of dangerous machinery.”18

The fact that the conditions of production contribute to the emergence of disability is indisputable. Importantly, the capitalist state is instrumental and embroiled in reinforcing and solidifying disability as a category. The political apparatus of monopoly-capitalist society intervenes with social policies that are intrinsic to defining who is, and is not, disabled. Primarily the responsibility of the welfare system, the state directly imposes on individuals, and reinforces, the category of disabled, or alternatively denies that status, against an assessment of an individual’s ability to labor and the requirements of production.

Disability and Dependency under Capitalism

Facing exclusion from the labor process, disabled individuals are likely to require social support. Between July and September 2019, an estimated 6.7 percent of disabled people in Britain were unemployed, compared to 3.7 percent of non-disabled. Additionally, a further 43 percent were economically inactive, thus they were not in work or actively seeking it, in comparison to 15 percent of non-disabled individuals. In total, 52.4 percent of working-age disabled people in Britain were employed compared to 81.8 percent of non-disabled individuals.19 Similarly, in the United States, in 2019, 7.3 percent of disabled individuals were officially unemployed compared to 3.5 percent of those without disabilities. Of all disabled individuals of working age in the United States, 66.3 percent were not in the labor force.20

The result of high rates of worklessness is that material deprivation pervades the experience of disability. In 2016, an estimated 25 percent of working-age disabled individuals in Britain were considered to live in “deep” poverty, existing on an income below 50 percent of the medium, in comparison to 13 percent of non-disabled people.21 Moreover, between 2016 and 2017, of all families in Britain living below 60 percent of the medium income, after housing costs, 45 percent had at least one member who was disabled.22 In the United States, in 2017, an estimated 29.6 percent of working-age disabled individuals were in poverty, compared to 13.2 percent of those without disabilities.23

With poverty and exclusion from the labor market characterizing life for many disabled people, dependency becomes a means of survival. Relative to the often negative attitudes toward social groups not in work, disabled individuals are ordinarily accepted as deserving of social support. Grounded in the dominance of the biomedical model, disabled individuals tend to have a special moral status, with their dependency broadly accepted. Being considered disabled primarily through no fault of their own, individuals are viewed as having little, if any, control over their biological status. There is an assumption that they would work if they could, but their bodies prevent them.24 As a result, they are generally thought of as entitled to support from welfare services to ensure their material existence.25

A contradictory institution, the welfare state under monopoly capitalism is a dialectical phenomenon, emerging from, and shaped by, class struggle. It is a reflection of class conflict and the balance of class forces at any one time, encapsulating to varying degrees the interests of both capital and the working class.26 Yet, it ultimately exists as part of a capitalist state, the intention of which is the indelible preservation of capitalism. The welfare system is essential to aiding the long-term accumulation of capital, both in terms of establishing the conditions of surplus-value creation and legitimizing capitalism.27 Much of this is bound up with its role within the process of social reproduction, a practice whereby, through the provision of services such as health, education, and social security, among others, individuals are “reproduced” in the sense of being functioning members of capitalist society, people who accept the class-based nature of society and the economic base that underpins it, and more specifically as a source of labor ready to partake within the production process. In relation to disabled individuals who are considered deserving of social support and accepted as exempt from having to offer their labor power for sale, the welfare state assumes responsibility for reproducing their material conditions at a basic level due to their reduced opportunity to engage in wage labor.

All societies, Ian Gough argued, create categories of individuals unable to maintain themselves through labor.28 Within the advanced capitalist nations, welfare services constitute the primary means of distributing a proportion of society’s surplus produced during production, by members of the labor force, to those unable to engage in labor themselves. Historically, churches functioned as the only social welfare for disabled people. Although during Marx’s lifetime the nucleus of what would become the welfare state barely existed, he was nevertheless acutely aware of this form of redistribution, acknowledging it as an inevitable characteristic of capitalism. Recognizing a proportion of the population for varying reasons were excluded from labor, they were “through force of circumstances,” Marx proclaimed, “made dependent on exploiting the labor of others.”29

Consequently, defined as having limited value as a form of exploitable labor, many disabled individuals are recipients of welfare services that transfer to them a portion of society’s surplus to compensate for their exclusion from wage labor. Social security provision acts as a vital source of purchasing power that would otherwise largely be unavailable, allowing disabled people to obtain necessities that contribute to their reproduction. Contradictorily, socialized health services potentially inflict restrictive forms of intervention and control, while also constituting significant methods of enhancing individuals’ physical existence. In addition to supporting their reproduction, the purchasing power provided ensures an element of material and physical protection that is hoped will be accepted as a form of remuneration, quelling any opposition to capitalism and the conditions contributing to their inability to fully engage in the labor process. This illustrates the welfare state’s role in attempting to maintain social harmony and legitimize capitalism.30

Disability, Welfare, and the Reserve Army of Labor

Although not situating her analysis within a Marxist framework, Deborah Stone illustrates the significance of the welfare state for establishing who is disabled. Disability, she asserts, is a socially constructed category allowing society to delineate the perimeter between ability to work and dependency, arguing its purpose is to “keep everyone in the work-based distributive system except for the very neediest people, those who have legitimate reason for receiving social aid.”31 Correctly, Stone contends that the state makes use of disability as an evaluative category to determine the size of the labor force.32 Although recognizing this economic function, Stone, primarily understands disability as a “formal administrative category that determines the rights and privileges of a large number of people.”33 This, however, ignores the capitalist context within which welfare states function. Stone’s principle assertion is that, as a category, disability identifies who is and is not capable of work. Here, the capacity to work must be understood within the operative needs of capitalism.

Despite efforts to assort types of disability against objective clinical measurements as part of the biomedical model, disability under capitalism is not a fixed category, but fluid. While the biomedical model may equate it with impairment, not all impairments are categorized as a disability. For example, less-than-perfect eyesight is not considered a disability in today’s world. Value-laden judgments of medical professionals, activists, and the state influence whether an impairment will be given the status of a disability. Under monopoly capitalism, the welfare state is central to determining who is considered disabled, but this evaluation is not isolated from the mode of production. As already argued, disability is mainly defined by the corporeal requirements of the labor process, providing the broad context within which evaluations are made and the basis on which many social policies operate. More specifically, who is considered disabled is bound up with the welfare state’s role in regulating and reproducing the supply of labor. Always predicated on corporeal expectations of wage labor, who is identified as disabled will often vary depending on the specific needs of capitalism at any historic moment, with the category of disability adapted to correspond broadly with the historical socioeconomic context and the needs of the accumulation process at any one time.34 This flexibility is inextricably related to the role individuals with impairments have as part of the surplus labor population.

As illustrated, for Marx, individuals unable to work due to impairment were often reduced to members of the reserve army of labor. This surplus population constitutes a disposable resource for capital as a pool of potential labor to be exploited when needed.35 Specifically, Marx bequeathed to it the role of regulating the existing labor force that, “during the periods of stagnation and average prosperity, weighs down the active labour-army; during the periods of over-production and paroxysm, it holds its pretensions in check.”36 For Marx, the reserve army of labor has the function of quelling discontent during periods of economic decline, while moderating exuberant challenges during times of prosperity, crucially with regard to wage demands.37 Fundamentally, it acts as a method of control, restraining wage growth and reducing labor costs.38

An eclectic group of individuals, Marx distinguished between three broad categories of people in the reserve army of labor, with an additional substratum: (1) the floating population consisting of those who are unemployed as a result of the normal business cycle but searching for work; (2) latent members, who primarily included unemployed agricultural workers, who grew as capitalism came to dominate as an economic system; and (3) stagnant members, defined by irregular part-time and casual employment, resulting in reduced labor market skills and a “precarious” material existence well below the working-class average. Additionally, Marx identified “the lowest sediment of the relative surplus-population,” including individuals with impairments, as those who exist in a state of pauperism.39 However, over the last half a century or more in the monopoly-capitalist economies, it is more accurate to depict disabled individuals as overall having occupied a fluid position between groups who experience severe poverty outside of the labor market and that of the stagnant population who experience irregular employment. For the reserve army of labor to fulfill its function of regulating the existing labor population, it is vital that a plentiful supply of floating members exists, as they are closest to the labor market at any one time, in terms of actively seeking work, being prepared for it, engaging with training, and still possessing relevant skills and experience developed during previous periods of work. As a result, they potentially constitute the greatest threat to existing members of the labor force as a viable source of alternative labor.

Far from a static concept, the composition of the reserve army of labor is fluid, with permeable boundaries between it and the labor force. For example, the history of capitalism in the monopoly-capitalist nations is illustrative of periods of both integration within, and exclusion of, disabled individuals from the labor market in response to historically specific conditions of accumulation.40 Over the last decade, in Britain, as in many other advanced capitalist nations, the focus has once again turned to working-age disabled people as a source of labor, exemplified by social security reforms designed to increase their participation within the labor force. Attempting to transform them into floating members of the reserve army of labor through a reassessment of their corporeal status evaluated against the labor process, this has taken the form of the welfare state intervening to reconceptualize the category of disability on behalf of capital.41

Welfare Reform and the Disabled Labor Force

The last decade has witnessed the British state seek to redefine disability, influenced by attempts to expand the supply of labor. Obscuring the boundaries between welfare and labor market policy, efforts have been made to transform disabled individuals into floating members of the reserve army of labor through social security reforms, which, while continuing to provide an element of out-of-work income support, have been utilized as an economic policy bolstering the provision of labor.42 In doing so, these efforts echo Claus Offe’s assertion that social policy is the “state’s manner of effecting the lasting transformation of non-wage labourers into wage-labourers.”43

In Britain, the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) has emerged as a major disability policy, coming to constitute the primary income-replacement benefit for working-age disabled individuals, establishing itself as the principle means whereby a disabled individual’s work capability is assessed.44 Presented as a means of providing greater opportunities for individuals to obtain employment, the recent logic of the ESA has fundamentally been to expand the supply of labor through a process of “upskilling.” Integral to the ESA have been efforts to define who is disabled, with this predicated on a work capability assessment (WCA) evaluating an individual’s corporeality and biological status in relation to expected performance within the labor force. Subsequently, entrenched within the ESA is the assessment of an individual’s claim to disability against the nature of the labor process that contributes greatly to evaluating an individual’s disability status.

Prior to the implementation of the ESA, the main income-replacement benefit for working-age disabled individuals in Britain was the Incapacity Benefit, which also had a work-based assessment as a component. However, under the ESA, this assessment process has become more stringent.45 The threshold for defining disability has increased, meaning individuals who under past assessments may have been identified as disabled and incapable of work now have a greater chance of being deemed suitable for employment. When reassessing individuals during the transition period from the Incapacity Benefit to the ESA, between 2010 and 2013, 22 percent of applicants who were entitled to support under the old program were considered capable of work after assessment by the new WCA criteria.46 Central to the ESA, therefore, has been the redefinition of disability when assessed against the labor process, in an effort to construct a greater number of individuals as able-bodied and slash welfare provision.

While the ESA exists as a mechanism of regulating who occupies the category of disabled, this is overwhelmingly for the purpose of determining who is, and is not, thought suitable for wage labor, and thus who is, and is not, entitled to government aid. After the mandatory WCA, if deemed ineligible for support, applicants are identified as fit for work and compelled to join the ranks of the unemployed as able-bodied. If eligible for the ESA, individuals can be sorted into two groups. The first is the Work Related Activity Group. Accepted as disabled, they are nonetheless considered as having some capacity to work in the future. Subsequently, they are mandated to engage in work-related initiatives or risk losing their benefits, but do not have to obtain employment. Despite reduced expectations that individuals will actively pursue work, the out-of-work income support for this group is limited, and in 2017 it was reduced for new claimants, comparable to unemployment benefit, in the hope that it would encourage people to “voluntarily” opt into the labor market. Finally, if regarded unfit for work, applicants are placed into the Support Group, with no expectation to engage in work or work-related activities. They receive a rate of benefit greater than those in the Work Related Activity Group.

Of all completed WCAs between October 2013 and June 2018 (before appeals), 53 percent of applicants had been placed into the Support Group, followed by 37 percent deemed fit for work, and 10 percent categorized as part of the Work Related Activity Group.47 Subsequently, just under half of applicants were constructed as floating members of the reserve army of labor, either compelled to pursue work immediately or engage with work-related training, demonstrating interaction with the labor process. As a welfare policy, the ESA has primarily contributed to the creation of a surplus labor population, comprised of individuals who are prepared for future work. Less concerned with identifying current employment opportunities, the ESA’s objective has been largely to expand the reserve army of labor with people who have the required skills and attitudes, and who can seamlessly transition to the labor market when needed. That the supply of potential labor should grow at a rate greater than opportunities to enter the labor market is not an aberration, but fundamental to the success of the reserve army of labor. Wage restraint and social control is only feasible with an increasing supply of surplus labor waiting outside of the labor market.48

Instrumental to identifying able-bodied members of the floating reserve army of labor (those classed as fit for work), the ESA’s role in maintaining and reproducing individuals still officially classed as disabled, but who have been identified as capable of joining the floating surplus labor population, thus becoming part of the labor market, is most succinctly illustrated in relation to the Work Related Activity Group. One of the primary purposes of the mandatory work-based initiatives is to ensure the long-term reproduction of their ability to labor. This component of the ESA has the responsibility of ensuring that this particular group, although officially classed as disabled, retain its capacity to work while outside of the labor market. It is crucial that their ability to labor is reproduced, if not for the present, then for the future, should they be absorbed into the labor market after any mandatory reassessment of their ESA claim is made, and their status as disabled potentially reevaluated and rescinded.

For the remaining 53 percent of applicants of the ESA who, between 2013 and 2018, were not required to seek work or engage in work-related activities, it was acknowledged that their corporeal nature was inadequate for the requirements of capitalist production, with little expectation that they join the ranks of the floating reserve army of labor. Although, given the fluid nature of the disability category, this means that in the future they may be assimilated into the labor force or transferred to the Work Related Activity Group category. As part of the Support Group, the state has a responsibility to maintain them. Their material existence is underpinned by the redistribution of a proportion of society’s surplus produced during production by members of the labor force. While there are those in this category who have some of the severest impairments and are unlikely to have the capacity to work regardless of the conditions of labor, there are also many within the Support Group who continue to remain victims of capitalism’s exclusionary economic organization.

Finally, as a consequence of the conditions of their labor, disabled individuals, even if employed, have the potential to remain members of the surplus labor population, in the sense of occupying positions characterized by precariousness and underemployment. Within the labor force, the reserve army of labor is identified by the mass of unemployed and underemployed individuals.49 Temporary, seasonal, zero-hour contracts and part-time employment, characterized by low pay and insecure conditions, is seized on by capital to control and threaten full-time employees, contributing to a reduction in wages and benefits. From only a cursory examination, disabled people in Britain are likely to remain part of the surplus labor population even while working, having a greater chance of being employed in low-paid service-sector occupations, such as sales, customer service, and caregiving positions, generally on a part-time and irregular basis.50 Moreover, as Russell argues, disabled employees are more likely to be seen as disposable and disregarded in the early stages of economic decline.51 As such, even when in work, they exist within a state of precariousness and insecurity.

Disability and Justice: An Alternative

Rather than a physiological issue, disability is a form of oppression and discrimination. While impairments have characterized individuals across space and time, and exist as a biological reality, disability is a capitalist construct, determined by the system’s drive for accumulation, which conflicts with the corporeality of individuals with impairments. This oppression is reinforced by the state, managing and regulating their social status as either dependent or occupying various positions within the surplus labor population. With capitalism at the heart of their exclusion, disabled individuals are central to the class struggle.

However, at the turn of the millennium in the United States, and in more recent years in Britain, disability rights activism has been subsumed into the political mainstream, diluting its once more radical nature.52 In Britain, Michael Oliver and Colin Barnes addressed the “professionalization” of disability politics, noting a decline in the authority of grassroots organizations as large charities and governments adopted, and adapted, the causes advocated by the movement, sanitizing its goals.53 Moreover, in both Britain and the United States, epitomizing the appropriation of the disability cause by the political mainstream, rather than focusing on the structures of inequality, a “rights-based” approach has dominated the agenda, reflecting a liberal preference for equal opportunities. Undoubtedly, legal equality is essential, but as other oppressed groups can testify to, it is not the solution. The emancipation of disabled individuals through the granting of equal rights has become an end in itself. But social justice will always be elusive if oppression is concluded to be primarily the result of largely voluntaristic discriminatory practices and attitudes, rather than the consequence of an economy that has commodity production at its heart. As Russell argued, “if we conceptualise disablement as a product of the exploitative economic structure of capitalist society…then it becomes clear that anti-discrimination legislation…is insufficient.”54

As long as capitalism remains the dominant mode of production, the oppression of disabled people will continue. Under an alternative economic system, one democratically organized, where the purpose of labor is to be fulfilling, creative, and meaningful, it is quite conceivable, as Roddy Slorach argues, that many individuals who find themselves currently excluded from the labor process due to impairments would have greater opportunities to participate.55 A radical reorganization of the production process, allowing for full inclusion regardless of individuals’ bodies, is fundamental for everybody’s liberation. A democratically accountable economic system would accept and value varying abilities and skills, ensuring work for all.56 In this context, work would not be underpinned by profit, but by human need, allowing all members of society, whether they have impairments or not, to achieve a sufficient material existence for themselves and, crucially, to engage in the development of society in a way that affirms their humanity. For those with the most severe of physical and cognitive impairments, some of society’s most vulnerable members, the democratic reorganization of society and the economy is essential for guaranteeing a life of dignity and respect free from poverty and marginalization.


  1. Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 (Seattle: IHME, 2018), 13.
  2. Disability and Health: Key Facts,” World Health Organization, January 16, 2018.
  3. Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation, Fundamental Principles of Disability (London: Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation, 1976).
  4. Michael Oliver and Colin Barnes, The New Politics of Disablement (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 20–22.
  5. Marta Russell, “Disablement, Oppression, and the Political Economy,” Journal of Disability Policy Studies 12, no. 2 (2001): 87–95.
  6. Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 1 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1977), 173–75.
  7. Marx, Capital, vol. 1, 395.
  8. Marx, Capital, vol. 1, 397.
  9. Marx, Capital, vol. 1, 398.
  10. Marx, Capital, vol. 1, 380.
  11. Marx, Capital, vol. 1, 380.
  12. Russell, “Disablement, Oppression, and the Political Economy,” 88.
  13. Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 3 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1972), 88
  14. Frederick Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).
  15. Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England, 172–73.
  16. Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England, 173.
  17. Marx, Capital, vol. 1, 602–3.
  18. Marx, Capital, vol. 1, 603.
  19. Andrew Powell, People with Disabilities in Employment (Briefing Paper, no. 7540, House of Commons Library, August 13, 2020).
  20. Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics—2019,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, February 26, 2020.
  21. Adam Tinson, Hannah Aldridge, Theo Barry Born, and Ceri Hughes, Disability and Poverty: Why Disability Must Be at the Centre of Poverty Reduction (London: New Policy Institute, 2016).
  22. Brigid Francis-Devine, Poverty in the UK: Statistics (Briefing Paper, no. 7096, House of Commons Library, June 18, 2020).
  23. Institute on Disability/UCED, 2018 Annual Report on People with Disabilities in America (Durham: University of New Hampshire, 2018), 9.
  24. Deborah Stone, The Disabled State (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1984), 172.
  25. Stone, The Disabled State, 172–73.
  26. David Matthews, “The Working-Class Struggle for Welfare in Britain,” Monthly Review 69, no. 9 (February 2018): 42.
  27. James O’Connor, The Fiscal Crisis of the State (New York: St Martin’s, 1973).
  28. Ian Gough, The Political Economy of the Welfare State (London: Macmillan, 1979), 47.
  29. Marx, Capital, vol. 3, 258.
  30. O’Connor, The Fiscal Crisis of the State, 6.
  31. Stone, The Disabled State, 118.
  32. Stone, The Disabled State, 180.
  33. Stone, The Disabled State, 27.
  34. Chris Grover and Linda Piggott, “Disabled People, the Reserve Army of Labour and Welfare Reform,” Disability and Society 20, no. 7 (2005): 710.
  35. Marx, Capital, vol. 1, 592.
  36. Marx, Capital, vol. 1, 598.
  37. Marx, Capital, vol. 1, 596.
  38. Fred Magdoff and Harry Magdoff, “Disposable Workers: Today’s Reserve Army of Labor,” Monthly Review 55, no. 11 (April 2004):18–35.
  39. Marx, Capital, vol. 1, 601–3.
  40. Mark Hyde, “From Welfare to Work? Social Policy for Disabled People of Working Age in the United Kingdom in the 1990s,” Disability and Society 15, no. 2 (2000): 336.
  41. Grover and Piggott, Disabled People, the Reserve Army of Labour and Welfare Reform, 711.
  42. Grover and Piggott, Disabled People, the Reserve Army of Labour and Welfare Reform, 712.
  43. Claus Offe, Contradictions of the Welfare State (Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 1984), 92.
  44. The ESA arguably constitutes one of the two main, current disability social policies in Britain for working-age disabled individuals. The other is the Personal Independence Payment, a non-means tested benefit. Infused with biomedical understandings of disability, the Personal Independence Payment evaluates an individual’s functional abilities in order to assess whether they require financial support to achieve a degree of independent living.
  45. Chris Grover and Karen Soldatic, “Neoliberal Restructuring, Disabled People and Social (In)security in Australia and Britain,” Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research 15, no. 3 (2013): 220.
  46. Steven Kennedy, “Incapacity Benefit Reassessments,” House of Commons Library, April 1, 2014.
  47. Employment and Support Allowance: Work Capability Assessments, Mandatory Reconsiderations and Appeals,” Department for Work and Pensions, March 14, 2019.
  48. Marx, Capital, vol. 1, 596.
  49. Magdoff and Magdoff, “Disposable Workers: Today’s Reserve Army of Labor,” 18–35.
  50. Quinn Roache, “Disability Employment and Pay Gaps 2018,” Trades Union Congress, May 25, 2018.
  51. Russell, “Disablement, Oppression, and the Political Economy,” 92.
  52. Marta Russell, “What Disability Civil Rights Cannot Do: Employment and Political Economy,” Disability and Society 17, no. 2 (2002): 117–35; Oliver and Barnes, The New Politics of Disablement, 143–60.
  53. Oliver and Barnes, The New Politics of Disablement, 156.
  54. Russell, “What Disability Civil Rights Cannot Do,” 121.
  55. Roddy Slorach, A Very Capitalist Condition: A History and Politics of Disability (London: Bookmarks, 2016), 269.
  56. Slorach, A Very Capitalist Condition: A History and Politics of Disability, 269.
2021, Volume 72, Issue 08 (January 2021)
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