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In what ways is Disability Constructed by Society?

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Introduction

In what ways is Disability Constructed by Society? This essay looks at how society today is built around disabled people. It explores the differential opinions on disability and it's meaning, how society responds and blames the individual and the mis-treatment of the individual themselves. Through examining different sociological models such as 'social' and 'medical', looking at theories such as 'the built environment', at language and media representations and also the effects on education, industry and politics, I aim to answer the question as to how disability is constructed by society. "Social disadvantage towards disabled people is one of the most pressing social and political issues today". Past policies on disability seem to blame the individual, new policies should be directed at changing society. The meaning of the word disabled causes great debate. The 'dis' suffix at the beginning of the word gives a negative feel to the word. Other negative words in the English dictionary beginning with 'dis' include discard, disappoint, disrupt. The same dictionary defines the word disabled as: "Made ineffective, unfit or incapable". Disabled people find themselves labelled with this definition giving them a negative approach to life. The word implies that they are unfit for anything, that they are incapable of effectiveness in any field. ...read more.

Middle

We are one big community and so should adapt to welcome smaller minorities such as disabled people. The built environment in Britain tends to neglect the needs of disabled people. This is because able-bodied people are of a higher-level percentage in population compared to disabled people. Shops are therefore built without easy access, as are cinemas, restaurants, offices and so on. Disabled people are therefore discriminated against leisure and indeed work. Other areas to study are language and media representations. The words or phrases used to describe or identify disabled people are often derogatory and thought of as abusive. Some phrases lead the disabled individual to feel dehumanised or un-welcome in society. Words such as 'spastic' and 'mong' often come as second-tongue to people and are not only used with disabled people but also with able-bodied people as a form of abuse. Language itself is used in media representations. Although not a great deal of research has been carried out into media representations there is definitely some evidence to show that disabled people are made out to be "sinister and evil", as "atmosphere or curio" or made out to be "an object of violence". ...read more.

Conclusion

They lack self-confidence and also self esteem. All the views mentioned above portray some form of negative approach towards disabled people. The medical model for example blames the individual making them feel as though it's their fault that they are whom they are. The social model states that we as a society should adapt to welcome in smaller groups of people to make life as enjoyable as possible, for as many people as possible. Evidence such as public services and leisure activities are then mentioned to show that institutional discrimination is taking place, again showing a negative approach. The built environment mentions able-bodied people as being "the people in control", the "ones holding the reins". This leads to the neglect of disabled people as the environment and society is built around able-bodied people. Disabled people are part of a small minority of the population and have therefore escaped sociological notice; they are forced to live in a social prison. Policy for disabled people should now be aiming to change society and not to blame the disabled individual. What happens to disabled people is a part of the way our society is organized and structured. Our behaviour, opinions and the way in which we discriminate, stigmatise and socially exclude disabled people, mirrors where humanity is going wrong today. Stuart Small. 12-MI ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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