The art of belonging and social space – How does the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities challenge society and service provision?

Friday, November 1, 2013
First author:
Reker S.

Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Division: Inclusion and Disability, Munich, Germany

All authors:

Sarah Reker

Public Policy & Rigths
Rights, Reciprocy, Transition


The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) provides the basis of this study. For all countries which have ratified the Convention since its entry into force in 2007, the effective implementation of the requirements often leads to considerable challenges. Furthermore, missing indicators make it difficult to measure progress. Therefore, the aim of the research project is to contribute to analyzing the consequences of the implementation process on the inclusion and exclusion conditions for people with disabilities in Germany.

Disabled People’s Organisations and other associations consider the social space to be relevant for the successful implementation of the CRPD. Against this background, the research project wants to focus on the relationship between a barrier-free access to the social space and the “full and effective participation and inclusion” (Art. 3) of persons with disabilities. The theoretical basis of the study is the sociological and socio-scientific theory of social space (“Sozialraumtheorie”).


With respect to the methodology, the study is based on a multidimensional approach including qualitative interviews and document analysis (e.g. mission statements of the organizations), which might be complemented by observations. My plan is to visit three different residential facilities for persons with disabilities and conduct about twenty interviews with members of the management, employees and residents with disabilities. By combining different methods of qualitative research, I would like to find out about the level of social space orientation in the field of services for persons with disabilities.


The research will provide more information about how social spaces are constructed for and by people with disabilities. The evaluation process will be based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF).


As the data collection has not been completed yet, no final conclusions can be drawn so far. But I assume that a social space orientation in connection with the CRPD could contribute to a more inclusive belonging especially for people with disabilities who live in residential facilities.


Löw, Martina (2006) “The Constitution of Space. The Structuration of Spaces Through the Simultaneity of Effect and Perception“. European Journal of Women’s Studies, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 25-49.