Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work

Program Name/Specialization

Global Justice and Human Rights


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Magnus Mfoafo-M'Carthy

Advisor Role

Chair of Dissertation Advisory Committee

Second Advisor

Dr. Jeff Grischow

Advisor Role

Internal/External Dissertation Advisory Committee Member

Third Advisor

Dr. Cynthia A. Sottie

Advisor Role

Dissertation Advisory Committee Member


Persons with disabilities (PWDs) are susceptible to various forms of mistreatments, particularly in the developing world, such that their personhoods are called to question. It was for this purpose that I set out to explore the personhood and citizenship of PWDs in rural Ghana. I used the constructivist paradigm in addition to the personhood and critical disability theories to guide the study which was conducted using an interpretive phenomenological research approach. To make the findings of the study participant driven, semi-structured interviews were held with PWDs. The findings revealed personhood to be perceived in a rank order of three semi-fluid levels, with PWDs located within the last two levels. Abuse, neglect, disrespect, and stigma characterized the personhood experiences of PWDs. PWDs were also found to be largely marginalized and this led to their low participation in various spheres of life within their communities; hence, their poor social, educational, economic, political, cultural and religious citizenships. The study also found that disability, personhood and citizenship coexisted in a symbiotic relationship such that disability influenced personhood, which in turn influenced the citizenship of an individual and vice versa. The combined impacts of the negative experiences of personhood and citizenship by PWDs were impoverishment, negative psychological and emotional impacts, including internalization of negative labels and perceptions of society, low self-esteem, low self-confidence, loneliness and insecurity. The study recommends resource mobilization to tackle the perennial threat of hunger faced by PWDs, financial accountability and empowerment of PWDs, and interventions to address negative psychological and emotional impacts of disability experiences on PWDs. More importantly, the study recommends community education and sensitization to disrupt inimical philosophical disability beliefs and practices.


I wish to Acknowledge the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship for Sponsoring my Doctoral Studies.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season