Contact FutureLearn for Support
Skip main navigation
We use cookies to give you a better experience, if that’s ok you can close this message and carry on browsing. For more info read our cookies policy.
We use cookies to give you a better experience. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or read our cookies policy for more information.

Skip to 0 minutes and 2 secondsMAN: FutureLearn. [THEME MUSIC] UNSW Australia. Introduction to Week 5.

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsLOUISA SMITH: We're going to be talking about multiple identities and what multiple identities mean when we talk and think through disability. So I thought that I better do a little bit of this myself, so I started to think through my multiple identities-- what things I identify with. And so I came up with a list, and it involved things like being a woman, a mother, being left-handed--

Skip to 0 minutes and 39 secondsKAREN SOLDATIC: Didn't know that. Left-handed?

Skip to 0 minutes and 41 secondsLOUISA SMITH: Yep.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 secondsKAREN SOLDATIC: There you go.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 secondsLOUISA SMITH: Yep, there you go. It's because you only see me type.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 secondsKAREN SOLDATIC: Yeah.

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 secondsLOUISA SMITH: And a few other things. Ah, a member of my local community, an Australian.

Skip to 0 minutes and 54 secondsAnd after I had made this list, I realised that I'd made certain omissions. I'd left certain things out. You could probably guess what they are.

Skip to 1 minute and 7 secondsKAREN SOLDATIC: One-- well for me-- one, that you're white. That's clearly a key area of your identity. Not that you've probably felt it or understood what that actually means, because you are white.

Skip to 1 minute and 25 secondsAnother one would be that you're highly educated. You've got a PhD in sociology-- in education, sociology in particular. And the other would be, I would suggest, that you're middle class.

Skip to 1 minute and 42 secondsLOUISA SMITH: Really? And-- yeah-- and what gives me that idea is some of your behaviours, for me, come across as very middle class. So--

Skip to 1 minute and 51 secondsLOUISA SMITH: Thank you.

Skip to 1 minute and 52 secondsKAREN SOLDATIC: Yeah, I mean it's part of your identity.

Skip to 1 minute and 54 secondsLOUISA SMITH: I think you're probably right. And I think as we go through this course, what would be really interesting is to start thinking about some of those things that we might forget that are parts of our identity-- what other people may clearly be able to identify us with that we ourselves don't. And when it comes to disability, often disability is the thing that other people attach to somebody else. But it mightn't necessarily always be the thing that the person with an impairment identifies with themselves the most. And what we're going to explore this week are how those other identities rise up and how they're experienced-- and how they interplay, I guess, with disability and impairment.

Skip to 2 minutes and 44 secondsKAREN SOLDATIC: And how they give-- how they give people with disability meanings about their life, the kind of interactions that they're able to have beyond just their disability and their impairment.

Welcome to Week 5

In this course we have suggested that disability often comes to take over our sense of who someone is. The fact of having a disability is seen to “overwhelm” other aspects of personality or identity.

Of course, we all have multiple aspects to our identity. Some aspects are defined by how we see ourselves, but others are about broader social and cultural structures and understandings of who has power. In this week we focus on how social and relational characteristics or categories — such as poverty, gender, race, ethnicity and sexuality — interact with experiences of disability.

In the above video Karen and Louisa introduce the week’s topic by discussing how they define themselves in multiple ways.

Talking points

Let’s think about how you would define your own identity. In the video, Louisa listed some things that make up who she is — that is, her identity. Give this a try yourself. Which three aspects of your identity do you think are the most important?

In the comments for this step, consider the following:

  • Do you think there are any differences between how you see yourself and how others see you (particularly people who don’t know you very well)? Why do you think this happens?

  • Why do you think disability is often positioned as a “central” identity in someone’s life, when it might not be the most important thing to them at all?

In the next step you’ll hear from Mel, your learner guide, about how she sees her identity.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Disability and a Good Life: Thinking through Disability

UNSW Sydney

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join: