Sociology of Disability - Syllabus
Sociology of Disability, Books: Sociology Of Disability
Sociology of Disability - Nirmala Erevelles -
Course Description: 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. However, there have been several theories within
sociological work that have rescued disability from its demeaning marginality and
reconstructed more empowering definitions. Thus, in this course we will examine these
critiques and re-constructions as produced through labeling theories, theories of
deviance, theories of social reconstruction as explained through symbolic interaction, and
theories that have argued for a sociology of acceptance. In addition, we will also examine
how other sociological theories within feminism, marxism, anti-racism, poststructuralism,
and gay/lesbian studies have also addressed issues around disability. Through this process
we will attempt to link the construction of disability with the constructions of race,
class, gender, and sexual orientation, particularly as they all pertain to the current
context of multiculturalism within the academy.
Course Objectives: Participants should have a general understanding
of the debates within the sociology of disability including: The many theoretical and
interpretive frameworks that have been utilized to examine the social construction of
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. Implications for practice in
education and the human services.
Foucault, M. (ed). 1974. I, Pierre Riviere, Having Slaughtered My Mother, My Sister, and
My Brother... Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
Fine, M. and Asch, A. 1988. Women with Disabilities: Essays in Psychology, Culture, and
Politics. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Morris, J. 1991. Pride against Prejudice: Transforming Attitudes to Disability.
Philadelphia: New Society Publishers.
Paul, Dianne, 1995. Controlling Human Heredity: 1865 to the Present. New Jersey:
Safford P. & Safford, E. 1995. A History of Childhood and Disability. NY: Teachers
Stone, Deborah. 1994. The Disabled State. Philadelphia. Temple University Press.
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?
Turner, B. Disease and Disorder.
Sarason and Davis. Mental Retardation: Social Invention and Transactional Phenomenon.
World Health Organization. Definitions of Disability and Handicap
Taylor, S. A Man Named August.
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
Erikson. K. Notes on the sociology of deviance
Dexter, L. On the politics and sociology of stupidity in our society.
Mercer, J. The clinical perspective.
Mercer, J. The social system perspective.
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?
Paul, D. Controlling Human Heredity.
Lecture: Historical Constructions of Race/Class/Gender/Sexuality: Colonialism,
Neocolonialism, and the New World Order
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?
Deegan, Mary Jo. Multiple minority groups: A case study of physically disabled women.
O.W. Stuart. Race and disability: Just a double oppression?
Begum, N. Disabled women and the feminist agenda.
Corbett, J. A "proud label": Exploring the relationship between disability
politics and gay pride.
Lloyd, Margaret. 1992. Does she boil eggs? Towards a feminist model of disability.
Film: On the Eighth Day: Perfecting Mother Nature.
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
Safford and Safford, A History of Childhood and Disability.
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?
Biklen, D. & Duchan, J. "I am intelligent": The social construction of
Morris, J. Introduction; Chapter 1: Prejudice; Chapter 4: Disability in a Western Culture;
Chapter 5: Segregation, Dependence, and Independence.
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?
Foucault, M. I, Pierre Riviere...
Video Presentation on the controversies over Facilitated Communication.
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?
Nibert, D. The Political Economy of Developmental Disability.
Crawford, R. A cultural account of "health": Control release and the social
Farber, B. The mentally retarded as a surplus population. In Class Reader.
Stone, D. Introduction and Chapter 1. The Disabled State
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?
Morris, J. Feminism and Disability.
Brown, H. & Smith, H. Whose "Ordinary Life" is it Anyway?
Graham, H. Caring: A Labor of Love.
Morris, J. Chapter 5: The Chance of Life; Chapter 6: Feminist Research and Community Care.
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?
Greenberg, D. The medicalization of homosexuality.
Brown, H. An Ordinary Sexual Life?: A review of normalization as it applies to the sexual
options of people with learning disabilities.
Asch, A. & Fine, M. Shared Dreams: A Left Perspective on Disability Rights and
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?
Stone D. The myth of bodily perfection. In Class Reader..
Hahn, H. Can Disability be beautiful? In Class Reader.
Hahn, H. Advertising the acceptably employable image: Disability and capitalism.
Kent, D. In Search of a Heroine.
Video Presentation on Images of Disabled People in the Media.
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?
Scotch, R. Disability as a Basis for a Social Movement: Advocacy and the Politics of Self
Shakespeare, T. Disabled people's self-organization: A new social movement?
Morris, J. Chapter 7: Fighting Back & Chapter 8:Pride.
Oliver, M. The politics of disablement - Existing possibilities.
R415 Sociology of Disability, IUPUI, the
Department of Sociology. An examination of current models of disability and of disability
at the interpersonal and societal level. Topics include recent legal, social, and
educational changes; the ways in which people with disabilities interact with the
nondisabled; the role played by relatives and caregivers; and the image of people with
disabilities in film, television, and other media. Recommended for students in nursing,
education, physical and occupational therapy, and social work, as well as for the medical
sociology minor. Available for graduate credit.
Anspach Renee R., 1979, Political Activism Among the Disabled and Mental Patients,
in Social Science and Medicine, 13, pp.765-773.