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Article Reference: ‘Narratives of Disability and the Movement from Deficiency to Difference’ by Caroline Gray

Gray, Caroline. “Narratives of Disability and the Movement from Deficiency to Difference.” Cultural Sociology 3.2 (2009): 317-32. Web.

P.317. ‘redefines disability as a difference rather than a deficiency. Instead In the last several decades, disabled people, disability rights activists, and their supporters have introduced an alternative way of thinking about disability, one that redefines disability as a difference rather than a deficiency. Instead of assuming that disabilities need to be cured, ‘fixed’, or eliminated, this relatively new discourse suggests that having a disability may invoke a sense of pride rather than shame.’

P.317. ‘In fact, if anything, disability should be, according to this discourse, evaluated as a positive difference.’

P.318. ‘Most often, disability is defined in medical, supposedly pre-social terms, described as
the ‘non-functioning’ of a particular capacity of the human body.’

P.318. any physical incapacity that also results in discrimination.’

P.318 ‘A sociological definition of disability would assume that it is, like any other marker or identity, socially constructed.’

P.319. One would be hard pressed to deny that disability remains a stigmatized category or to likewise deny that interactions between disabled and non-disabled people are often ‘flawed’ and plagued by ambiguities.’ On people with diabetes; because it can be partly hidden, I guess the stigma is less prominent than say for example someone who uses a more visible piece of technology that comes with a specific disability like for example a wheelchair, a hearing aid, or a walking stick. Because you cant always see an insulin pump, a person who uses an insulin pump lies in the middle; would they count themselves as ‘disabled’ (be that medically or socially)? What does having the piece of technology that is sometimes hidden, sometimes not, do to the person’s identity?

P.319. ‘disabled people as interactional deviants to thinking about them as a marginalized ‘minority group’ who, despite the differences in their disabilities, have in common the shared experience of
social exclusion and systematic discrimination.’

P.319. ‘‘the social model of disability’, and assumes that the problem resides not in disabled persons’ bodies but in the social environment that fails to support them (Shakespeare, 2008).’

p.320. ‘cultural sociology would suggest that we understand disability
as a system of symbolic classification. Doing so allows us to deconstruct the very
category of disability itself.’

P.320. ‘Once interpreted, the disabled body becomes culturally inscribed as a ‘polluted’, ‘contaminated’ body, one that stands in sharp contrast to the idealized, sacred, ‘normal’ and non-disabled representation of the human body (Douglas, 1966; Durkheim, 1995 [1912])

P.321. ‘At the opposite extreme, disability represents the complete failure of the physical body to meet any of these standards, and in this way, acts as a potentially polluting element.’

P.321. ‘The first is the form of the body, which encompasses a binary of beauty and ugliness.’ beauty vs ugliness; interesting. Again, I think its different for different disabilities. e.g. Aimee Mullins is deemed beautiful and incredible fashion designers have used her to model their work. She is beautiful in the eyes of the mainstream media, and afterall, she is a model. But, is this deemed so because her specific disability isn’t ‘ugly’, I think it maybe the piece of medical equipment used may play a part in this. For example, have you ever seen a model in mainstream media with a catheter bag?

P.321. ‘To demonstrate ‘ability’ suggests that an individual possesses a capacity to manipulate and move his or her body in ways considered acceptable and appropriate in a particular cultural context.’

P.323. ‘Assimilation, as I described earlier, is a process of incorporation that requires
that stigmatized groups disassociate themselves from their stigmatizing qualities and adopt those of the core group.’

P.323. ‘For example, prosthetic body parts and hearing aids may not change the actual physical body itself but may give the appearance of a body reinstated to its ‘natural’ and ‘normal’ state.’

P.324. ‘The grand narrative of assimilation always rests on this desire to find ‘the cure’, as it appears to offer the only suitable societal response to supposedly deficient disabled bodies.‘ Interesting… This shouldn’t be the only suitable societal response to supposedly deficient disabled bodies. 

P.325. However, they remain only conditionally; the disabled person must attempt to heroically overcome his or her disability by adopting a positive attitude. So, if you’re positive you can be included? Very harsh.

P.325. Eliminating disability does not lose its appeal. Rather, ‘overcoming’ disability becomes the next best alternative. It is not necessarily about cure but rather control. This is the next best thing to finding the ‘cure’. But again, this seems harsh.

P.325. ‘The positive attitude in a sense enables people with disabilities.’

P.325. ‘Often these narratives include specific examples of the various ways that disabled individuals lead ‘normal’ lives, examples that seem to make them appear even more amazing.’

P.327. ‘Instead of thinking of deafness as a disability, we think of it as an enhancement of vision’ interesting. An extension of vision? What could diabetes be an extension of Its a replacement pancreas but is it an extension? I suppose so

P.327. ‘But even more revealing and significant are attempts to assert not just disability as a different kind of ability, but disability as a superior kind of ability. This perspective assumes that having a disability allows persons to find new and inventive ways of performing tasks and ways of ‘seeing’ and interpreting the world around them.’

P.327. I don’t need to be fixed’ I don’t need to be fixed. Very powerful.


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