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Rights advocacy through participation in policy implementation: the case of the French disability rights movement
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Even though the study of disability rights advocacy has led to major c ontributions to social movement sociography and theory, the role played by the disability rights movement in the politics of implementation of disability policy within street - le vel bureaucracies remains largely unstudied. Based on a study of the disability sector in France, this paper explores this less - documented aspect of disability advocacy, focusing more specifically on the role played by association representatives in the al location of disability rights. Indeed, following a major 2005 reform of disability policy, these representatives were granted a third of the seats in the local committees in charge of the allocation of disability rights on an individual basis. Mainly drawi ng on interviews with volunteers and professionals sitting on these local committees, as well as observations of committee meetings, this paper analyzes how movement members define their role in this institutional context . It first analyzes the role played by disability rights organizations in counseling disabled people and their families before they submit their applications to the local bureaucracy in charge of allocating disability rights ( Maisons départementales des personnes handicapées , MDPH). The study of pre - application counseling practices reveals a clear partition between volunteers and professionals, as well as intra - movement differences regarding voluntary involvement in counseling. B eing on the allocation committees, association members ’ in teriorization of institutional constraints does not result in their assuming a purely institutional role, but favors a reframing of advocacy, in terms of oversight rather than participation in decision - making.