On the Possibility of a Disabled Life in Capitalist Ruins: Black Workers with Sickle Cell Disorder in England




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Peer reviewed



The link between workers with sickle cell disorder (SCD) and employment has until now been seen through the lens of the person’s disease, not their relationship to work (paid and unpaid). Using SCD as a case study, we foreground relations of employment, setting sickle cell and work into ecological context. In 2018, two focus group discussions and 47 depth-interviews were conducted with black disabled workers living with SCD across England. The relational concepts of Anna Tsing (2015)- salvage accumulation, entanglement and precarity - were used as an analytical framework to assess the reported experiences. To understand these experiences of those with SCD and employment, it is necessary to apprehend the whole ecology of their bonds to their bodies; their social relationships of kin and family; and their wider social relations to communities. Paid employment breaks bonds crucial to those living with SCD. First, employers can only extract sufficient productive value from workers if they disregard the necessary self-care of a precarious body. Secondly, reproducing labour though child-care, housework and care work is a taken-for-granted salvage central to capitalism. Thirdly, voluntary and community work are salvaged for free by employers towards their accumulation of profits. People with SCD find bond-making activities that create the commons life-affirming, thereby reconfiguring our understanding of connections between disability and work.

Tsing, AL (2015) The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.


sickle cell, black workers, chronic illness, disability, employment, Tsing, Anna, precarity, work


Dyson, S.M., Atkin, K., Berghs, M. and Greene, A.M. (2021) On the Possibility of a Disabled Life in Capitalist Ruins: Black Workers with Sickle Cell Disorder in England. Social Science and Medicine,


Research Institute

Institute for Allied Health Sciences Research