Sociology of Disability
Sociology of Disability Syllabus,
Books on Sociology Of Disability
"One of the most crucial factors in
the deconstruction of disability is the change of perspective that causes us to look in
the environment for both the source of the problem and the solutions." - Wendell
Disability is a "disadvantage or restriction of activity caused
by a contemporary social organization which takes no or little account of people who have
physical impairments and thus excludes them from participation in the mainstream of social
activities." - Michael Oliver
The social model of disability "does not deny the problem of
disability but locates it squarely within society. It is not individual limitations, of
whatever kind, which are the cause of the problem but society's failure to provide
appropriate services and adequately ensure the needs of disabled people are fully taken
into account in its social organizations
the consequences of this failure do not
simply and randomly fall on individuals but systematically upon disabled people as a group
who experience this failure as discrimination institutionalized throughout society."
- Michael Oliver.
"Disability is socially constructed by such factors as
expectations of performance, the physical and social organization of societies on the
basis of a young, non-disabled, 'ideally shaped,' healthy adult male paradigm of citizens,
the failure or nonwillingness to create ability among citizens who do not fit the
paradigm, and cultural representations
" - Wendell.
"Until the 1940s, a significant proportion of the inhabitants of
Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts was deaf. The whole community knew sign language, and
hearing people used it even among themselves. Sign language became a natural and ordinary
form of communication. People with impaired hearing worked, married, and were not thought
of as separate, significantly different, or as "special." They were, in short,
not considered handicapped. - Freund and McGuire in Health, Illness, and the Social
Common-sensical understandings of disability have located it
within the medical sciences where explanations pertaining to biology predominate. Such
biological deterministic explanations have constructed the disabled individual as deviant,
stigmatized, incompetent, and marginal.
On completion of this course, class participants should have a general understanding of
the debates within the sociology of disability.
The many theoretical and interpretive frameworks that have been utilized to examine the
social construction of disability.
A basic conceptual map of the historical, social, political, and economic conditions that
have produced the condition of disability and their inter-linkages with other oppressive
practices of racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia. - Nirmala Erevelles,
georgetown.edu - CFE500/SPE 621: Sociology of Disability.
Introduction: A Conceptual Map of the Sociology of Disability
What are the commonsensical ways in which we understand Disability?
What would constitute a sociology of disability
What are the conceptual tools we would use to analyze disability in this course?
Theoretical Lenses to Read Disability: Liberal Humanism/Marxism/Poststructuralism
Disability: The Politics of the Body
How does our society read the "disabled" body?
In what way does disability become a "political" concept?
What are the different ways in which disability is "officially" defined?
What are the implications of such definitions?
The Social Construction of Disability
How have liberal theories explained disability?
In what ways have these theories argued for a theory of disability that is socially
How have these theories influenced how the "able" world has understood people
The Hegemonic Interests of Scientific Inquiry
What interests have been maintained by casting disability as a "medical
How has scientific inquiry produced disability as a "non-negotiable" construct
How have other structures of inequality (race/class/gender/sexuality) been justified
through the scientific discourses of disability?
Identity Politics and Disability
How does class, gender, race, and sexuality complicate our understanding of disability?
How do we understand the notion of multiple oppression?
How can feminism, anti-racism, marxism, and the gay and lesbian movement address the
challenges that disability poses?
What are the points of contention between these movements and the disability movement?
Special Education: A Disabling History
What has been the social history of disability?
In what ways have the meanings of disability changed over different historical periods?
What have been the effects of these histories on children with disabilities?
In what ways has the ideology of disability manifested itself through society's
Living Normal Lives!
What are the critiques that people with disabilities have made of their treatment by the
In what ways do their critiques shape the traditional and alternative definitions of
If people with disabilities are understood as active agents then how does this further
politicize the field of disability?
Disability within Postmodernism: Discourses of Power in Conflict
How can disability be theorized within postmodernism?
How do the discourses of power serve to "discipline" the body?
What implications do these theories have on the "definitions" of disability?
The State and the Political Economy of Disability
How has the economic system produced disability?
How do we understand notions of "work," productivity, and efficiency - as
emphasized by the capitalist order?
How does the welfare state construct the category of disability?
Race, Class Gender And Disability: Competing Interests within the Welfare State
How does the welfare state regulate and contain the politics of difference?
How are the categories of race, class, and gender produced as antagonistic to the
interests of disability?
What purposes do such antagonisms serve?
The Construction of "Deviant" Sexualities
What forms of sexuality are understood as deviant?
In what ways do the institutions of power control sexuality?
Which groups of people fall under their control?
What interests are preserved through such control?
Packaging Disability for Popular Consumption
How does popular culture produce disability?
What tools can we use to critically examine the ideologies that such representations mask?
Alternative Visions: Disability Rights and the New Social Movements
How can people with disabilities as their own advocates become transformative agents?
In what ways can an analysis that includes race, class, gender, disability, and sexuality
contribute to the goal of social transformation?
Books On Sociology Of Disability
Barriers, Enabling Environments
by John Swain, Sally French, Colin Barnes, Carol Thomas
Protests: Contentious Politics, 1970-1999 - Sharon N. Barnartt, Richard Scotch.