Class #5: Social Model of Disability

Discussion Questions for September 11

Readings: Friedman; Shakespeeare


Because writing assignments are meant to prepare you for class discussions, you must post a draft question on the Moodle Forum for this date if you want your submission to count.  After posting a draft, you must revise and resubmit your final response for a grade by the following Sunday night.  In the case of questions posted below, the final draft of your question is due by the end of the day on Sunday,  September 15.  Include your name, the full question number, and the text of the question on both your draft and final submissions.

Discussion Questions

5—1    In terms of the social model of disability, why do people advancing this perspective believe that disability is a form of oppression?  Why might acknowledging that reality matter for people who are disabled?  Why might it matter for the rest of us?

For this question you need to do a close reading of the Shakespeare text to understand and explain the concepts.  The importance of this idea, however, really has to do with the identities of disabled people and the way they manage their lives.  I put in the last sentence because the discussion does not just have to do with people who are impaired but with relationships and also with the ways each of us deal with our abilities and our disabilities.

5—2    We will be hearing a talk about the intersections of disability, race, and gender.  In what ways are these concepts similar, according to Shakespeare, and in what ways are the comparisons between concepts inappropriate.

In sociological terms, all three concepts involve the juxtaposition of essentialism (for disability the essential quality is what Shakespeare calls impairment) with the way social structure imposes restrictions, limitations, and oppression.  Your response should not just tell how disability is different from race and gender but also why that difference makes disability as a general idea difficult to understand and difficult to create interventions for.

5—3    Does disability negate gender?

There seems to be an obvious answer to this question—of course disability does not negate gender.  Here’s my train of thought.  First, some observers note that gender is present in every interaction and also in terms of the way we relate to nearly every activity, in the sense that gender is connected to the ways we personally understand our empowerment, our appeal to the people we interact with, and to the meaning we assign to activities.  (I have been thinking about sports and the many ways that that activity is gendered in terms of personal meanings sports have.)

Think about the way you personally think of your own gender identity.  Now think about how that gender identity would be affected or would be affected by being significantly disabled.  Think, for example, whether as a paralyzed person you would be able to have a love relationship that involved sexuality with a non-disabled person.  Would it happen, what impediments would get in your way, and how would such a relationship affect your identity as a disabled person.  For the record, the DA in Lewisburg is a quadriplegic man, married to a non-disabled woman, and he has come to class to talk about his personal experiences with these issues.