Social justice and disability: competing interpretations of the medical and social models

    Allbwn ymchwil: Pennod mewn Llyfr/Adroddiad/Trafodion CynhadleddPennodadolygiad gan gymheiriaid


    The medical and social models of disability, whilst establishing important parameters for understanding competing interpretations of disability are now probably more accurately presented as archetypes of various discourses concerning disability, allowing for a range of interpretations between these two extremes (Shakespeare 2006). It is in this light that my chapter re-visits how these models can be variously interpreted in an effort to clarify the different type of claims that can be made by the Disability Rights Movement (DRM).
    Briefly put, the medical model has been commonly regarded by the DRM as an inaccurate interpretation of disability forming the basis of oppressive and exploitative relationships between non-disabled and disabled people. The argument is that focusing on individual medical conditions as the causes of disability, the medical model, first, incorrectly defines disability as a fixed condition related to the severity of a medical impairment. Second, it also incorrectly assumes that it is this medical condition, often defined as ‘handicap’, which inevitably causes ‘dependency’ between disabled and non-disabled people. So, according to Colin Barnes the medical model links the term ‘handicapped’ with ‘individually-based functional limitations’ which in turn falsely implies that: ‘The impairment is permanent and that (the handicapped) will almost certainly remain dependent throughout their lives.’ (Barnes 1991: 2).
    For the DRM the ‘social model’ offers an alternative paradigm for understanding disability by identifying causes of disability within social and political domains. Therefore, the experience of disability is not reduced to a fixed medical state relating to the severity of a particular medical impairment, but rather is an experience that is dependent upon how society is politically and socially organized and structured in relation to particular medical conditions. From this vantage-point the focus for the DRM is on the ‘politics of disablement’ where citizenship, inclusion and the problems of accessibility and discriminatory barriers to participation, are seen as central to the struggle of ‘being disabled’ (Oliver 1990). That is, rather than focusing on individually-based functional limitations which require treatment, adjustment or ‘cure’ as defined by the medical model.
    These models of disability though, can still be variously interpreted. Any model, after all, whilst might provide useful generalisations concerning the character of the phenomena being examined, are relatively abstract and still require further more substantive interpretation if they are to be relevant to specific policy and practice. I will begin by outlining two interpretations of the medical model, with one interpretation probably lying in between the medical and social models, plus two interpretations of the social model. My main argument being that (whilst these might not be exhaustive) each interpretation has distinct implications for the way disabled people are viewed and treated.
    Iaith wreiddiolSaesneg
    TeitlArguing About Disability
    Is-deitlPhilosophical Perspectives
    GolygyddionKristjana Kristiansen, Simo Vehmas, Tom Shakespeare
    Man cyhoeddiOxon
    Nifer y tudalennau14
    ISBN (Electronig)0-203-89157-0
    ISBN (Argraffiad)0-415-45595-2
    StatwsCyhoeddwyd - 2009

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