Date: 19th August 2013
Assignment 1 - Essay
‘DISABILITY IS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT’. Discuss, analyse and evaluate the main models of disability, and apply theoretical models that challenge this idea.
Disability as a social construct refers to the way we understand disability. It suggests it is ingrained in our society’s attitude toward ability. When most people use or read the word disability they understand it to mean a person who is unable to fully participate in typical life activities due to either mental or physical impairment. A person who is fully functional would be able to attend a mainstream school, obtain a job, and have a relationship without significant assistance. This is how society views disability and I will show in this essay that ‘disability’ is a social construct formed by the community, policies and environment that people with impairments find themselves being governed and influenced by.
When investigating the creation of laws, policy and the structure of society, models or processes of thinking are followed. Until the 1990’s there have been two main models that have helped us explain and explore disability. One of these is the individual deficit or medical model and the second is the socially constructed or social oppression model (Shakespeare, 2006). I will explore both of these models and in doing so compare and analyze them. I will also investigate other models, which have been proposed following criticism of these two models.
Under the Medical Model, disabled people are defined by their illness or medical condition. The Medical Model regards disability as an individual problem (Shakespeare, 2006). It promotes the view of a disabled person as dependent and needing to be cured or cared for, and justifies the way in which disabled people have been systematically excluded from society. The disabled person is the problem, not society. Control resides firmly with professionals; choices for the individual are limited to the options...