Disability Term Paper

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Disability Term Paper
Jose A. Rosario
Student # 700316
Central Texas College
For Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirement for SOCI 1301
Introduction to Sociology
Submitted to Dr. Duffy
December 7, 2010
This paper demonstrates that hitherto sociological analyses of disability have been theoretically and methodologically inadequate. It is written that sociology, in common with the other major contemporary disciplines, has accepted almost without question the legitimacy of the individualistic biomedical approach to disability. It is argued that this partial and essentially 'non-disabled' reading of the phenomenon has succeeded in precluding a meaningful evaluation of the economic, political and cultural forces which created and continue to create disability in modern society. Thus the discipline as a whole has contributed significantly to the continued marginalization of the disabled population. Moreover, by focusing on the development of the international disabled people's movement and the work of disabled writers it is suggested that disability is an issue as central to mainstream sociological discourse and analysis as class, gender, race and sexuality. INTRO TO SOCIOLOGY 3

Recently, a number of sociologists working in a general area of medical sociology and chronic illness have expressed concern over the growing importance of the 'social oppression theory' of disability, associated research methodologies, and their implications for doing research in the 'chronic illness and disability fields' (Bury, 1992). Whilst these writers, who call themselves scientists, feel the need to 'positively debate' these developments the basis of their concern is similar to that expressed by Hammersley with respect to some aspects of feminist research, i.e. the tendency to 'privilege experience over sociological research methodology' (Hammersley, 1992). In short, it is perceived as a threat, firstly, to 'non-disabled' researchers doing disability research, secondly, to the traditional role of the sociologist giving 'voice to the voiceless' -in this case 'older' disabled people whose interests are said to be poorly served by 'social oppression theory'. Thirdly, to the 'independence' of sociological activities within the 'medical sociology world' It can be argued that in the general area of disability research 'experience' should take precedence over 'sociological' research methodologies, simply because hitherto 'non-disabled' researchers have consistently failed to address the question of disability as perceived by disabled people whether young or old. It will also be proposed that within the context of medical sociology, sociological 'independence' has been conspicuous by its absence due to medical sociologists almost slavish adherence to the traditional individualistic medical view of disability or 'personal tragedy theory' (Oliver, 1986; 1990). Finally, it will be shown that disability can no longer be considered solely as a medical problem affecting only a minority of the population but must be perceived as a civil rights issue as central to mainstream sociological discourse and analysis as class, gender, race and sexuality. INTRO TO SOCIOLOGY 4

Disability as Social Deviance
The rollercoaster existence of disability can be understood with reference to the freedom from social obligations and responsibilities explicit in the sick role construct and subsequent derivatives, and in the negative view of impairment prevalent in industrial and postindustrial societies. Because such societies are founded upon liberal ideals of individual responsibility, competition and paid employment, any positive association with impairment, such as freedom from social obligations and responsibilities, must be discouraged. Especially as they may appear attractive to those already economically and socially disadvantaged by class, gender, race or...
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