The University of Winnipeg



Explore empowerment, disability rights, and American policy reform

Dr. David Pettinicchio, ©UToronto

Dr. David Pettinicchio, ©UToronto

UWinnipeg’s Department of Sociology, in conjunction with Human Rights, Disability Studies, and Stanford University Press, presents Dr. David Pettinicchio, (University of Toronto).  Pettinicchio will be speaking  on Politics of Empowerment, Disability Rights and the Cycle Disability Rights of American Policy Reform on Monday, March 25, 2019 at 12:30 – 1:30 pm, in room 2M70, Manitoba Hall.   

Despite the progress of decades-old disability rights policy, including the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, threats continue to undermine the well being of this population. The US is, thus, a policy innovator and laggard in this regard.

By the 1970s, a group of legislators and bureaucrats came to act as “political entrepreneurs.” Motivated by personal and professional commitments, they were seen as experts leading a movement within the government. But as they increasingly faced obstacles to their legislative intentions, nascent disability advocacy and protest groups took the cause to the American people forming the basis of the contemporary disability rights movement.

Pettinicchio will discuss Politics of Empowerment, based on his recent book, and will offer a historically grounded analysis of the singular case of US disability policy, countering long held views of progress that privilege public demand as its primary driver. Drawing on extensive archival material, Pettinicchio redefines the relationship between grassroots advocacy and institutional politics, revealing a cycle of progress and backlash embedded in the US political system.

Disability rights image

Disability rights

Pettinicchio is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto and teaches courses in quantitative methods, social policy and political sociology and is affiliated faculty in the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. Pettinicchio’s interests lie at the intersection of inequality, politics/social movements and social policy. His current book project, Empowering Government with Stanford Press, is about the struggle in entrenching civil rights policies – namely, disability rights in the U.S. – and how political back-stepping generates social movement mobilization whereby advocacy groups through the use of institutional and direct-action tactics seek to ward off efforts to rollback rights. His research team is also undertaking a major quasi-experimental audit study of disability-based employment discrimination in Canada. The project is funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant and an Ontario Early Researcher Award. In addition to publishing in peer-reviewed journals like Gender and Society, Law and Policy and the British Journal of Social Psychology, he also regularly contributes policy briefs to Scholars Strategy Network and essays in Mobilizing Ideas. His op-eds have appeared in Huffington Post, USA Today and The Washington Post, as well as The Hill and The Globe and Mail.

Pettinicchio received his BA and MA in sociology from McGill University and his PhD from the University of Washington. He completed his postdoctoral research fellow at Nuffield College, University of Oxford. 

For further information, please contact Dr. Heidi Rimke or Dr. Kimberley Ducey, Department of Sociology,