Starting from the observation that discourses about citizenship with regard to persons with a disability are often being linked to notions of ‘full inclusion and participation in the community’, this paper sets out to explore the meaning of the concept of community, which often remains vaguely defined. ‘Community’ is a complex concept and researchers have highlighted that communities exist both as a physical place and as a locus of affiliation or identification. Furthermore, while some understand ‘community’ as a space with clear boundaries – which can be physical, psychological, social, temporal or cultural – others view it as something fluid and without precise definition. It can also be noted that contrasting emotions are related to different conceptions of ‘community’, ranging from nostalgia to fear and envy.
The analysis brought forward in this paper begins with a discussion about the use of the concept of community in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It continues with investigating what ‘community’ means from the point of view of persons with disabilities. The analysis is grounded in life-course interviews with Swedish women and men from three generations (born in 1950s, 1970s, 1990s) and having different impairments (difficulties in seeing, psychosocial difficulties, intellectual impairments and mobility difficulties), and adopts an intersectional approach, i.e. the analysis takes into account aspects of gender, age and impairment, with a particular attention for comparing psychosocial difficulties, i.e. mental health problems, with other types of impairments. It is argued that a discussion of the concept of ‘community’ grounded in empirical data (life-course interviews and the CRPD) brings fruitful insights for the understanding of citizenship with regard to disability.