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Examine an area of oppression and discuss how this manifests itself in institutions and societies and how it impacts upon the lives of individuals and communities.

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Examine an area of oppression and discuss how this manifests itself in institutions and societies and how it impacts upon the lives of individuals and communities. This essay will examine disability as an area of oppression in society. When answering this question it would be useful, first of all to put forward a definition for the term disability. The Disability Discrimination Act (1995) describes disability as 'a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day to day activities'. In Northern Ireland there are an estimated 201,000 Disabled Adults (Working with Diversity). Despite this high number, people with disabilities are treated as a separate homogenous group to the rest of society. I will examine how this oppression has manifested itself through institutions by drawing on the medical and the social model of disability. The medical model of disability is seen as being a discriminatory perspective that perceives disability as a personal tragedy. In contrast, Thompson (2006) regards the social model of disability as being an anti-discriminatory perspective that requires a change in how we view disability. Thompson (2006) refers to disablism as 'the systematic discrimination and prejudice against people with disabilities which produces a milieu of oppression and degradation' (p.122). ...read more.


This model of disability has been developed by activists who have impairments and call for the removal of those barriers in all areas of society that prevents inclusion and equality for everyone. This includes access to the mainstream education system, better employment opportunities and access to all infrastructures (Swain et al. 2004). Barton (1995) provides a critique of segregated special education for creating stereotypical and negative labels that are attached to pupils who attend 'special' needs schools. Furthermore, Barton argues that 'pupils within special education schools receive an inferior education to their able-bodied peers and the rhetoric of 'caring' and 'supporting' often obscures this fact (1995: 29). Additionally, segregated provision of education contributes to a heightening of difference between individuals who have impairments and those who do not. This ultimately impacts on social attitudes and shapes assumptions about disability. Quickie (1992) argues that the education system for disabled people creates 'disorder, alienation and a culture of dependency' (p.2). Furthermore, marginalisation within the education system negatively impacts on disabled peoples opportunities for well paid employment or training opportunities with further education in adult life. Individuals with disabilities need equal access to the same learning opportunities as those individuals who do not have a disability. ...read more.


To conclude, this essay began by giving my understanding of the socially constructed nature of disability as an area of oppression within a historical context. I have discussed principles of the social model of disability that have slowly replaced the medical model of disability. This anti-discriminatory model of disability locates the problem of disability not on the individual but in the structures of society. When examining the oppression of disabled people, the institutions and structures I have focused on are the media, education system, employment and social services. Using the social model approach to disability, I have examined how society's attitude concerning impairment is connected to oppression. I have attempted to explain the personal, cultural and structural nature of impairment in contemporary society within a sociological framework. Using Thompson's PCS analysis I have examined how discrimination manifests itself through society. Thompson (2006) notes how this discrimination is best understood by examining the wider social context that it takes place. This is particularly important for social work when seeking to achieve anti-oppressive practice. Lastly, due to the word count, this essay is limited in that it does not provide a critique of the social model provided from a postmodernist perspective. However, one main critique of the social model is that despite the progress it has made within policy the social model ignores the subjective experience of disability (Corker & Shakespeare 2002). ...read more.

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I was impressed with the quality of the work in this essay examining how those with disabilities are oppressed, and what the impact of this is on those individuals. The essay usefully gives a definition of disability and took the unusual approach of using the 2 models of disability to highlight the challenges disabled people can face. Generally there is good use of supporting references, although there is room to be more consistent with this as indicated in the annotations. There was a clear discussion re the impact of the oppression that can be in place, but I did not note a clear discussion re the impact on communities as the introduction to the essay suggested there would be; therefore this is the key area for improvement. Some of the references were fairly old - so consider using more recent work/research where possible. Nevertheless, a strong piece of work.

Marked by teacher Diane Apeah-Kubi 05/04/2013

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