Home"Disability and Poverty" Revue des politiques sociales et familiales

Home"Disability and Poverty" Revue des politiques sociales et familiales

"Disability and Poverty" Revue des politiques sociales et familiales

« Handicap et pauvreté » Revue des politiques sociales et familiales

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Published on Monday, May 13, 2024


Ties between disability and poverty are numerous and complex. In this thematic issue of the Journal of Social and Family Policies (RPSF), we propose to explore the stakes for individuals, their entourage, and the institutions that welcome or supervise them.



Ties between disability and poverty are numerous and complex. In this thematic issue of the Journal of Social and Family Policies (RPSF), we propose to explore the stakes for individuals, their entourage, and the institutions that welcome or supervise them. These connections have already been explored in multiple ways, for example, through a historical lens in a book reporting on a groundbreaking seminar (Gueslin, Stiker, 2003), which examines the manifestations of disability, exclusion, or education across regions and time. The notion of exclusion, which A. Gueslin and H.-J. Stiker examined over past centuries, particularly in the 19th century, became again, at the end of the 20th century, one of the ways to think about the relationship between poverty and disability. The use of this notion, whose political success in the 1990s has been well-documented (Paugam, 1996), aimed to shift the focus towards forms of poverty presented as new because they were thought to be more rooted in living conditions than in monetary inequalities. The figure of the disabled person plays an important role in these new representations of social hierarchies, as it reflects forms of social rejection that deviate from the usual oppositions between rich and poor (Lenoir,

1989). From the 2000s onwards, the notion of exclusion tends to be replaced by that of vulnerability, increasingly mobilised both in the field of social assistance in general and in the field of disability in particular (Brodiez-Dolino, 2015). Abroad, various studies have also linked these two notions (Palmer, 2011), such as in Brazil (Nakamura and Santos, 2007; Meira, 2012; Barbarini, 2014), throughout South America (Pinilla-Roncancio, 2015), or else in China and India (Tian and Ma, 2023).

Alongside these debates surrounding exclusion and vulnerability, policies targeting people with disabilities have been strengthened and developed in France between 1975 ̶ the year of the first major laws explicitly addressing this issue ̶ and 2005, when a new law came to reform these policies. These laws have had the effect of building a new field of social policies, but also of legitimising a new social cause, around which research has been encouraged and funded (Baudot, Borelle, and Revillard, 2013). Thus, the major surveys on disability launched in the late 1990s by the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Insee) and the French Directorate of Research, Studies, Evaluation, and Statistics (Drees), then renewed more or less every ten years, up to the ongoing Autonomy surveys, have greatly increased the amount of quantitative data available on disability.

These surveys notably show that people with disabilities are more often exposed to poverty (Baradji, Dauphin and Eideliman, 2021) and that disabled beneficiaries of minimum social benefits have more degraded living conditions (Baradji, 2021). It also emerges from the 2022 "Presidential Election and Disability" survey (French Institute of Public Opinion (Ifop) / Association of Paralysed People of France (APF) - France Handicap) that 74% of people with disabilities struggle with household resources, a higher proportion than the general population (58%). 61% of these individuals also reported that their standard of living had deteriorated over the past ten years (compared to 44% for the general population).

However, a wide diversity of situations can be observed, for example, depending on the type of disability. Thus, the standard of living of people with disabilities is generally lower than that of so-called able-bodied individuals, but people with hearing impairments less frequently live in households considered poor (Levieil, 2017). This relative surprise is explained by the social characteristics of these individuals, who are older than average and more often in relationships. This example nevertheless encourages further investigation into specific populations and to consider, beyond the disability itself, the social characteristics associated with it. Finally, it calls not only for an interest in the impact of disability on the standard of living, but also on other effects, such as the effect of the standard of living on the risk of having a disability, or even the effect of disability on social trajectories more generally.

Thus, this call for contributions from the RPSF proposes four axes of reflection, within which article proposals can be situated, or from which they can simply draw inspiration to articulate or exceed them. For each of these axes, various approaches and methods are possible, and the proposed articles can interchangeably draw on the diversity of disciplines within the social sciences and the humanities (law, political science, economics, history, geography, sociology, anthropology, etc.). Finally, proposals based on data from different geographical areas or enabling international comparisons will be welcomed.

1st Axis. Objectifying the Ties Between Disability and Poverty

The first axis proposes to revisit the ways of describing and objectifying the ties between disability and poverty. Analyses of survey data (primarily quantitative, but potentially also qualitative) are expected to finely characterise these connections and demonstrate how they vary from one type of disability to another.

This will of objectification often raises questions of methodology and definition. What type(s) of disability are we discussing and how should we define them? Are we interested in disability as it appears through declarations of impairments or limitations, in a situation of disability declared by the person concerned, or in a disability officially recognised by the administration? We know that these approaches to disability cover populations that are not only more or less extensive, but also different from each other, without these definitions really fitting together (Ravaud, Letourmy and Ville, 2002).

Similarly, definitions of poverty are multiple and can refer to very different situations depending on whether one chooses, for instance, an objective, subjective, or living conditions approach to poverty (Duvoux and Papuchon, 2019). Should poverty be approached strictly in monetary terms, or is it more relevant to embed it within broader living conditions, through the analysis of social environments? To what extent can an approach through the notion of exclusion or through that of vulnerability be relevant for better understanding these situations?

Another important issue, also related to the chosen methodology, is that of the selected unit of analysis. The way to describe the ties between disability and poverty changes according to an individual, household, or family group (restricted or extended) approach. The recent political debate that ultimately led to the decoupling of the French Allowance for Adults with Disabilities (AAH) is a good example of the significance of these questions regarding disability: disabled people are by definition seen as vulnerable, so thinking of them as individuals or as members of family groups is crucial for understanding their dependency and/or autonomy links (Carbonnier, 2021).

Regardless of the main method used (whether quantitative or qualitative), we expect article proposals to be specific about their subject and methodology, mentioning the definitions chosen for the populations and concepts under study.

2nd Axis. Is Disability a Factor in Poverty?

Does disability lead to poverty? This may be the simplest way to explain the ties between disability and poverty. The literature on discriminations, school challenges, relational issues, and employability difficulties that disability can entail is abundant (Chauvière, 2003; Revillard, 2019). Disability incurs costs and extra costs in multiple ways, for the individual affected and/or for the caregivers: reduced income due to productivity considered low, technical or human assistance, time and energy of caregivers, work interruptions for mothers of disabled children, etc. Even though these costs are relatively well-documented, they are so numerous and variable that new data and reflections on the matter would be welcome.

Institutions, particularly those in the healthcare and social sectors (psychologists, nurses, speech therapists, psychomotor therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, specialised educators, educational instructors, social and family education advisers, medical-psychological assistants, etc.), often associate disabled individuals with vulnerable people, including economically and socially. Their practices, representations, and the consequences thereof could be profitably analysed within the scope of this dossier. Do professionals employ the lens of vulnerability (or that of exclusion, albeit less frequently) to understand situations and guide practices? Depending on the entry point into support (through poverty or through disability), do support systems start and develop differently?

What are the consequences for the beneficiaries?

More generally, one may question the motivations and reasons behind public action towards disabled people. How is the relationship between disability and poverty perceived by those who formulate and implement social policies? Within which frameworks are disability and poverty considered together, and in which others are they separated, and why?

Lastly, disability policies are partly based on the idea of necessary compensation for disability, through monetary benefits, funding for dedicated institutions, or facilitating the balance between family and professional life for caregivers of disabled individuals. However, these policies also create varying out-of-pocket costs depending on situations and disabilities. How do they vary and how do the people concerned cope with them?

3rd Axis. Poverty, a Factor of Disability?

The less explored opposite relationship is also intriguing. Contrary to a widely held belief, people are not equally exposed to the risk of becoming disabled. Depending on the social environment and economic and social resources available to the person, he/she may be more or less exposed to the risk of being considered disabled.

This notion could be broken down into three levels, all of which warrant investigation, either together or separately. At the first level, it is key to understand how different forms of poverty expose individuals to risks that can lead to disabilities. This can include occupational hazards (work-related accidents), health risks (living conditions, hygiene, access to healthcare and prevention), risky behaviours (alcohol consumption, drug use, various risk- taking behaviours), etc. Numerous surveys show that psychological and intellectual problems are more common in modest environments, leading A. Lovell (2000) to suggest a "social gradient" for these issues: the further one descends into lower socioeconomic categories, the more prevalent these problems are, among both children and adults. In the latest wave of large national surveys on disability currently being conducted, the Drees has specifically decided to investigate child protection institutions and prisons because disabled individuals are overrepresented in these environments. It would be interesting to understand the origins of these strong ties between disability and institutions of control or protection, which tend to serve generally disadvantaged populations.

At a second level, research has shown that seeking administrative recognition of a disability can vary from one social milieu to another (Béliard et al., 2019). Why and how does the will to have certain issues qualified as disabilities develop? When do the individuals affected or their entourage initiate the process, and when is it rather institutions or professionals pushing them in this direction? Between the "medicalisation of deviance" (Conrad, 2006) and the use of medical or administrative categories as resources (Béliard and Eideliman, 2019), the sociological interpretations of these recognition paths are diverse, and the debate can still be enriched by new surveys and proposals.

At a third and final level, the very construction of the disability category can be analysed to understand its intimate ties with specific social situations. For instance, mental disability cannot be conceived independently of the fact that social hierarchy is symbolically based, at least in part, on the valorisation of intelligence, a notion both commonplace and extremely difficult to precisely define. How do changes in the disability category, particularly its broadening over time through legislation, reveal social transformations regarding what is deemed legitimate and illegitimate? Simultaneously considering the evolution of categories, policies and practices seems necessary to shed broader light on the relationship between disability and poverty.

4th Axis. An Interplay Between Diability and Poverty in Configurations and Trajectories

Finally, it would be interesting to explore these connections between disability and poverty based on the various configurations in which they are embedded (Brégain, 2018; Carotenuto-Garot A., 2020). From one society or era to another, these connectionss vary, in their content, in how they are conceived and in the ways of reacting to them. Proposals that rely on spatial or temporal comparisons, historical or socio-historical approaches to these issues, will therefore be particularly welcome.

More broadly, the authors of article proposals may wonder how the ties between poverty and disability can fit into various configurations that give them different meanings. Depending on the onset date, the type of disability or poverty, but also according to conventional socio- demographic features (gender, age, ethnic background, place of residence, etc.), the articulation between disability and poverty can indeed present itself very differently. It would be possible, for example, to question what, "behind" the disability, explains the likelihood of facing situations of poverty, or what, associated with a disability, promotes or minimises the risk of experiencing forms of poverty. It will then be a question of entering the "black box" of disability and seeing what, beyond the category of disability itself, weighs on social trajectories or family and social configurations.

Proposals analysing these connections from a gender perspective (Boudinet and Revillard, 2022; Mosconi, Revillard and Vouillot, 2022) would be particularly welcome. Are women more affected by the combination of disability and poverty? Or does this relationship take specific forms depending on gender?

Ties between poverty and disability would also benefit from being studied dynamically, by placing them within a more or less extended timeframe, where individual and collective trajectories (family, professional, institutional, etc.) can provide a perspective on punctual events (administrative recognition of disability, use of social services, medical-social orientation) as well as a better understanding of the institutional, political, and social context and its developments.

Through these four axes, this thematic issue will bring together scientific articles, synthesis, studies and methods articles, as well as book and symposium reviews in order to inform these questions from different angles. Articles based on empirical materials collected anywhere in the world and treated in relation with various and possibly multidisciplinary approaches are expected.

Editorial Process

Authors are invited to submit an article title, along with its abstract (approximately 300 words) and keywords, indicating whether the proposed article is a scientific article or a synthesis, study, or method article, as well as a brief biographical note,  to the editor-in-chief of the journal (rpsf@cnaf.fr) and to the thematic issue coordination team: jean-sebastien.eideliman@u-paris.frvanessa.stettinger@univ-lille.fr.

by the 20th of June 2024

Instructions to authors (in French and English), to be followed for all submitted articles, are available on the journal's website


  • The 20th of June 2024: Deadline for submission of proposals and abstracts.
  • The 7th of February 2025: Sending the initial drafts (V0) of articles to the coordination team, followed by exchanges with authors.
  • The 4th of April 2025: Submission of articles to the editor-in-chief and sending for external review.
  • June 2025 : Editorial board meeting.
  • The 3rd of October 2025: Submission of the second version of articles (V2).
  • June 2026: Publication of the issue.


  • Jean-Sébastien Eideliman (Université de Paris Cité – Laboratoire CERLIS)
  • Vanessa Stettinger (Université de Lille – Laboratoire CeRIES)


Baradji E., 2021, Minima sociaux : des conditions de vie plus dégradées pour les bénéficiaires handicapés, Études et Résultats, n° 1203.

Baradji E., Dauphin L., Eideliman J.-S., 2021, Comment vivent les personnes handicapées - Les conditions de vie des personnes déclarant de fortes restrictions d’activité, Les Dossiers de la DREES, n° 75.

Barbarini T., 2014, "Sob a tutela do biopoder: crianças com TDAH", Estudos de Sociologia, vol. 19, p. 221-238.

Baudot P.-Y., Borelle C., Revillard A., 2013, Politiques du handicap. Introduction, Terrains & travaux, vol. 23, n° 2, p. 5-15.

Béliard A., Eideliman J.-S., 2019, Familles et handicaps mentaux ou psychiques,

Savoir/Agir, vol. 47, n° 1, p. 73-82.

Béliard A., Eideliman J.-S., Fansten M., Mougel S., Planche M., Vaumoron S., 2019, Enfants agités, familles bouleversées. Enjeux et usages familiaux du diagnostic de TDA/H, Sciences sociales et santé, vol. 37, n° 1, p. 5-29.

Boudinet M., Revillard A., 2022, Politiques de l’emploi, handicap et genre, Travail, genre et sociétés, vol. 48, n° 2, p. 71-87.

Brégain G., 2018, Pour une histoire du handicap au XXe siècle. Approches transnationales, Europe et Amériques, PhD thesis, Rennes, Rennes University Press.

Brodiez-Dolino A., 2015, La vulnérabilité, nouvelle catégorie de l’action publique,

Informations sociales, vol. 188, n° 2, p. 10-18.

Carbonnier C., 2021, Family-Based Tax and Transfer System – Issues for Income Tax and Other Public Policies, Economie et Statistique / Economics and Statistics, n° 526-527,

  1. 41-48.

Carotenuto-Garot A., 2020, « Les déficiences motrices et/ou sensorielles et le recours aux dispositifs de l’urgence sociale pour les populations sans-domicile de Paris », Rapport de recherche.

Chauvière M., 2003, Handicap et discriminations : Genèse et ambiguïtés d’une inflexion de l’action publique, in Borillo D. (ed.), Lutter contre les discriminations, La Découverte,

  1. 100-122.

Conrad P., 2006, Identifying Hyperactive Children. The Medicalization of Deviant Behavior, Aldershot, Ashgate.

Duvoux N., Papuchon A., 2019, La pauvreté subjective comme mesure de l’insécurité sociale. Une comparaison des différents indicateurs de pauvreté, Savoir/Agir, vol. 49, n° 3,

  1. 87-93.

Gueslin A., Stiker H.-J. (eds), 2003, Handicaps, pauvreté et exclusion dans la France du XIXe siècle, Paris, Atelier.

Lenoir R., 1989, Les Exclus : un Français sur dix, Paris, Le Seuil.

Levieil A., 2017, Le niveau de vie des personnes handicapées : des différences marquées selon les limitations, Études et Résultats, n° 1003.

Lovell A., 2000, Les troubles mentaux, in Fassin D., Leclerc A., Grandjean H., Kaminski M., Lang T. (eds), Les Inégalités sociales de santé, Paris, La Découverte, p. 251-266.

Meira M.E.M., 2012, Para uma crítica da medicalização na educação, Revista Semestral da Associação Brasileira de Psicologia Escolar e Educacional, vol. 16, n° 1, p. 135-142.

Mosconi N., Revillard A., Vouillot F., 2022, Handicap, genre et travail, Travail, genre et sociétés, vol. 48, n° 2, p. 27-34.

Nakamura E., Santos J. Q., 2007, Depressão infantil: abordagem antropológica, Revista de Saúde Pública, vol. 41, p. 53-60.

Palmer M., 2011, “Disability and Poverty: A Conceptual Review”, Journal of Disability Policy Studies, vol. 4, n° 21, p. 210-218.

Paugam S. (ed.), 1996, L’Exclusion, l’état des savoirs, Paris, Editions de La Découverte.

Pinilla-Roncancio M., 2015, Disability and Poverty: Two Related Conditions. A Review of the Literature, Revista de la Facultad de Medicina, vol. 63, n° 1 sup, p. 113-123.

Ravaud J.-F., Letourmy A., Ville I., 2002, Les méthodes de délimitation de la population handicapée : l’approche de l’enquête de l’Insee Vie quotidienne et santé, Population, vol. 57, n° 3, p. 541-565.

Tian J., Ma M., 2023, “Does Disability Necessarily Lead to Poverty?”, International Journal of Frontiers in Sociology, vol. 5, n° 1, p. 1-7.



  • Thursday, June 20, 2024


  • handicap, pauvreté, vulnérabilité, entourage, institution, professionnel


  • Jean-Sébastien Eideliman
    courriel : jean-sebastien [dot] eideliman [at] u-paris [dot] fr
  • Vanessa Stettinger
    courriel : vanessa [dot] stettinger [at] univ-lille [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Vanessa Stettinger
    courriel : vanessa [dot] stettinger [at] univ-lille [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« "Disability and Poverty" Revue des politiques sociales et familiales », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, May 13, 2024, https://doi.org/10.58079/11nu4

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