Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Social and Cultural Environmental Factors That Create or Contribute to Disability

Social and Cultural Environmental Factors That Create or Contribute to Disability

Social Factors Contributing to the Construction of Disability

·      War, terrorism
·      Violent crime — shootings, rapes, knifings, beatings
·      Drug and alcohol abuse
·      Lack of basic resources — water, food, clothing, shelter
·      Tolerance of dangerous working conditions
·      Neglect of children
·      Low public safety standards
·      Degradation of the environment by contaminating water, air, food
·      Daily grind, overwork and stress of poverty
·      Lack of medical care, inappropriate medical care — prenatal care,
·      Improved medical techniques and practices increase the numbers of people
with disabilities who live or people live long enough to become disabled
·      Increase in the pace of life that leads to accidents, stress, alcohol, and
drug abuse, increased performance/output expectations, lack of rest, and
·      Physical structure and social organization of society – physical barriers in
architecture, inadequate public transportation, communication systems,
inflexible work arrangements
·      Failure to give people the amount and kind of assistance needed to participate
fully in public sphere, especially work and school
·      Assumption that temporarily able-bodied people do not receive assistance
(for example job training, social support, child care, transportation, and
communication assistance is taken for granted)
·      These social factors affect some groups more than others because of racism,
classism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism

Cultural Factors Contributing to the Construction of Disability

·      Lack of representation and experiences of people with disabilities
·      Pervasive stereotypes of people with disabilities
·      Stigmatization of physical and mental limitations
·      The cultural attitude that physical or mental differences that deviate from
“normal,” but do not in and of themselves affect ability, are disabling (eg., facial
·      Invisibility, stigmatization, stereotypes of disabilities and people with disabilities
feed fear, ignorance, and pity in temporarily able-bodied people
·      Assumption that disability is a personal, family problem rather than a matter
of social responsibility

The concept of social construction of disability and these examples are from Susan Wendell’s book, The
Rejected Body: Feminist Philosophical Reflections on Disability. (New York: Routledge, 1996).

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