Cultures of disability; from being stigmatized to doing disability
Disability is understood as lack, something to be fixed, just as illness is understood within this
binary frame as lacking health.
In her important essay ‘integrating disability, transforming feminist theory’ Garland – Thomson
(2002) discusses 4 domains of feminist theory that can be deepened by a disability analysis ;
representation, the body, identity and activism.
Stigma and stigmatization
Erving goffman,s classic study stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity
Diagnoses the self in relation to particular others and to society and social norms in general.
Goffman , focused on the individual self in a world that at once creates and oppresses it.
In stigma goffman gathers together diverse materials as evidence for his account of the
personal experience of stigma and the social practice of stigmatization.
Autobiography as an important tool and resource for understanding and challenging the stigma
associated with disability.
Stigma , the situation of the individual who is disqualified from full social acceptance,
Stigma is not based on certain fixed qualities that remain the same across time and cultures
rather it is based on historical categorizations of difference.
Stigma works not as the consequence of a fixed attribute –a face without a nose-but as a
consequence of social relations –the girl without a nose in relation to others.
Stigma theories, ideologies that rationalize the practices of stigmatization.
Virtual social identity and actual social identity,; the normative expectations or assumptions
made about a person’s identity by others and the actual attributes that person possesses.
Hidden stigmas include homosexuality, a history of mental illness and a criminal past, Goffman
explains that there is a difference between the plight of the discredited ,those whose stigmas
are immediately perceived by others and the discreditable, those whose stigmas are hidden in
the present but are potentially perceivable in the future,
A stigmatized person is often more conscious of her particular situatedness than are so – called
The stigmatized person often becomes a critic of the social scene, an observer of human
relations, can become “situation conscious”.
Disabbility and Experience
Only in the last 20 yrs according to davis, have people with disabilities seen themselves as a
‘single,allied, united physical minority’ and this perception of unity has brought both the
struggle for civil rights through the disability rights movement and the struggle for a new
discourse on the experiences of disability through disability studies. The beginning of a shift in emphasis from identity politics to a critique that might be understood
as ‘postmodern’ or poststructuralist
Poststructuralism, - challenges both medical models of disability, which perceive and classify
disability in terms of a meta- narrative of deviance, lack and tragedy, and assume it to be
logically separate from the inferior to ‘normalcy’ and the social model of disability ,which has
roots in historical materialism and understands disability as ‘socially.... constructed on top of
According to Mitchell and snyder, while these narratives provide an understanding of disability
on an individual level, they are less likely to give the reader a sense of the social and political
structures tha t bring the disability category into being.
Disability and Genealogy
Genealogy is an especially useful methodology for disability studies and activism and i also
believe that ,conversely the multiple experiences, events and practices of disability provide new
understanding of what it means-theoretically and practically- to do genealogy.
Garland Thomson,s important work on the representation of disability in literature and
culture,Extraordinary bodies(1997) ,denaturalizes the normal by inventing the term normate.
That term normate usefully designates the social figure through which people can represent
themselves as definitive human beings.
Genealogical investigations; stones explore how the concept of disability came to be associated
with clinical medicine and clinical reasoning,
Foucault’s work- antisciences, descent, and emergence
Genealogy helps to locate some of the lost events of disability even or especially those events
covered over by the emergence of disability studies and the disability rights movement in its
I also believe genealogy gives us a mode in which to imagine other domains, practices, and
figures of disability.
Analysis of how disability is done: allows us to understand how disability is enacted in various
domains , not just in the past but in the present as well.
Foucault describes one of the effects of the various social movements of the 1960,s and early
1970,s as the insurrection of subjugated know ledges.
For Foucault this insurrection of subjugated know ledges is both a return of historical know
ledges that have been repressed or buried and the emergence of a whole series of know ledges
that have been disqualified as non conceptual know ledges.
For Foucault genealogies are quite specifically antisciences.
The biomedical model of disability approaches disability as a problem that science and
medicine can and must fix; disabled people Disability rights activists have sought to replace or atleast supplement the biomedical model of
disability witha social model of disability.
Postmodern model of disability; these antisciences models of disability consider the ways in