Norwegian version

Public Defense: Gagan Chhabra

Gagan Chhabra will defend his thesis "Two worlds apart, yet similar? A comparative study of disability policy reforms and employment experiences of young adults with visual impairments from Norway and India”, for the PhD in Social Work and Social Policy

Zoom link

Zoom link to the trial lecture and public defense (

Password: 720716

Trial Lecture

The trial lecture starts at 10:00 in Zoom.
We ask the audience to enter Zoom 15 minutes prior to commencement of the trial lecture.

Title:  What are the challenges/risks and the benefits of comparing disability policies across very different national contexts? 

Public defense

The candidate will defend his thesis at 12:00 in Zoom.

Ordinary opponents

Leader of the public defense

Vice dean Per Arne Olsen, Faculty of Social Sciences, Oslo Metropolitan University.


  • Abstract

    This comparative study contrasts the disability policies and employment experiences of young adults with visual impairments from Norway and India. Its point of departure is the recognition that the labour market inclusion of blind and visually impaired youth is a perennial problem across countries in both the Global North and Global South. Based on this grim labour market reality experienced by young adults with visual impairments, the overarching question the current thesis explores is as follows: What are the avenues of convergence within government policies aimed at promoting employment inclusion and similarities among the employment experiences of youth with visual impairments in Norway and India?

    The thesis is based on a qualitative case study methodology that entailed a policy review commencing in the 1990s. Moreover, 25 policy experts (11 from Norway and 14 from India) and 29 young adults with visual impairments (12 from Oslo and 17 from Delhi) were interviewed. The philosophy of pragmatism was employed to produce useful knowledge that is theoretically informed, empirically grounded and contextually conscious.

    The thesis is significant on three grounds. First, there is a dearth of comparative disability research involving countries from the Global North and Global South. Norway has been contrasted to other developed countries, while India has been compared with developing countries. The present study undertakes a comparison hitherto never made. Second, the voices of young adults with disabilities have largely been overlooked in cross-national research. The current study foregrounds the previously underexplored employment narratives of young adults with visual impairments, who are relatively marginalised in the labour market in Norway and India. Third, comparing policies, institutions and lived perspectives across developed and developing countries could challenge ethnocentric proclivities, national stereotypes and cultural clichés. The current thesis offers a nuanced understanding of disability policies, labour market institutions and employment experiences from two disparate countries. All this cumulatively expands the contours of comparative disability research and youth studies.

    Five research articles constitute the foundation of this thesis. The first research article is predicated on a review and analysis of policy documents and describes the points of convergence within the social regulation reforms between these two significantly different countries commencing in the early 1990s. The findings of this article point towards a globalisation of social regulation policies. 

    The second research article is grounded on interviews with policy experts, and it explicates the impact of two factors that contribute to the said social regulation policy convergence. The findings suggest that not only is there a globalisation of social regulation reforms, but common factors, such as the impact of international treaties and the grassroots mobilisation of disabled people and their organisations, are influencing these disability policy reforms. 

    The third research article is based on qualitative interviews with qualified young adults with visual impairments and describes their barrier perceptions linked to employers’ discrimination. The findings indicate the prevalence of ableist proclivities, spurious assumptions, outdated misconceptions and attitudinal barriers, which preclude qualified young adults with visual impairments from labour market participation. 

    The fourth article is also based on youth interviews and contrasts a few individual factors and institutional enablers that foster social resilience and facilitate employment inclusion among qualified young adults with visual impairments as they try to secure employment in Oslo and Delhi. The findings accentuate that young adults with visual impairments are not passive actors, but resourceful agents who can cope with, adapt to and transform their labour market realities.

    The fifth article is predicated on critical reflections and experiential insights from the field study in Oslo and Delhi. It revisits a few opportunities and perils associated with the insider–outsider dichotomy within disability research. The article invites researchers to adopt the in-betweener’s position on the insider–outsider continua while conducting qualitative cross-national disability research. 

    The thesis and its accompanying five research articles do not focus on significant differences, which are partly intuitive and overtly obvious, but rather, they focus on points of policy convergence and experiential similarities prevailing across Norway and India. The current thesis offers contextually nuanced comparative insights and generates contingent working hypotheses that should be vindicated or refuted by undertaking more Global North–South disability research. 

  • Digital defense information

    The OsloMet campus is closed as a consequence of the corona virus pandemic

    Due to restrictions and limitations on physical participation, the public defense will be conducted on the zoom digital platform.

    Attend the public defense live in Zoom

    The link to the digital defense in Zoom is on the top of this page. OsloMet students and employees use OsloMet accounts. Others can download Zoom or use a browser.

    How to oppose ex auditorio

    Please send your question to the host during the break, before the second opponent begins. Raise your digital hand by clicking on "Participants" at the bottom of the zoom window and choose "Raise Hand" if you would like to voice the question yourself after both opponents have finished their questions. The technical administrator will ask to activate your microphone. Click Yes.

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  • Publication of the approved PhD thesis

    Request a copy of the PhD thesis (pdf) by sending an e-mail to the administration.