This essay will provide a definition of the social model of Disability as opposed to the bio medical model and discuss briefly the paradigm shift that has taken place in terms of the research, understanding and explanation of the subject of disability.
And examine the contribution of some prominent writers in both disciplines . 1 will also discuss some of the problems observed in the way the non-disabled relate with the disabled and also argue in support of scholars like Shakespeare and C.Thomas(2004) who believe that the Social model of Disability is inadequate does not provide all the answers and needs o be updated or modified to include the subject of impairment and to take account of other sociological leanings in coming up with an adequate theory of disability . 1 believe that the social model of Disability is foundational and should not be abandoned entirely. This essay will be concluded on a note that ‘discrimination or prejudice in whatever form it takes is not an inevitable consequence of the human condition but a form of social development or construction.Prejudice or discrimination against the disabled can be eliminated by arresting and transforming hat development by continuing with economic and political initiatives that includes the construction of a culture that acknowledges, accommodates and celebrates human difference whatever its cause rather than oppress it. ‘ Barnes( 2004) The social model of disability posits that disability is the outcome of social barriers that restricts or constrains the activities of people with impairment-physical, sensory ,intellectual . Thomas (2004).
I agree with the social model of disability, as I have observed in my work with the disabled that most of them see their impairments as a given and have more struggles overcoming social barriers to their participation in mainstream of social activities. Therefore there is a need for an emancipators approach to defining and overcoming those barriers. According to Giddiness (2009) for a long time in modern western societies the biomedical model of disability has been dominant.
This model indicates that individual limitations or bodily abnormality are the main cause of disability.Supporting this biomedical model of disability is a personal tragedy approach in which the individual is regarded as an unfortunate victim of a ‘chance’ event. Medical professionals play the most important role in the biomedical or pathological model almost like gods because they are expected to offer ‘medical and rehabilitative solution’ to the problem.
‘This understanding of disability has led to the disabled being treated as second class citizens often segregated to residential institutions’.One of the early writers on disability who had a disability himself and challenged the individual or biomedical model of disability is his work entitled Stigma :The experience of Disability, Hunt argued that the problem of disability lies not only in the impairment f function and its effect on the disabled but more importantly in the area of their relationship with the non-disabled people. This problem was compounded by academic or sociological research that did not involve the disabled or take into account their input.
Oliver (1983) was also influential in highlighting the distinction between the individual and the social model of disability . This was summarized in Giddiness (2009. P. 417) An emancipators approach to the study of disability entails engaging with certain key issues such as establishing a relationship with the kissable, listening to their voice as in the you tube video we watched in the class indicates and ensuring that the writers are ethically engaged with the disabled by dealing with conflict of interests and ensuring that their research and writings contributes to the benefit of the disabled.
Disabled sociologists have been very critical of the disabling and offensive nature of much of social science research that has been done regarding disability . Fiver (1992). Len terms of sociological research Morris(1992(a):201-2) advocates that there is a need for changes o the social relations of research productions and that researchers engage with the following questions in mind. Who do I want this research to influence?Who do I want to be aware of this research? Who do I want to relate to this research?. A clear message so far from social research is that what matters to the disabled is that the non-disabled recognize the profound nature of their struggles to realism a barrier- free society. Barton(2004). The emancipators or liberating approach requires that justice ,equality and participation or inclusion be the a primary imperative.
Disabled people have been subjected too range of offensive responses by other Although the social model of disability has been celebrated as a major triumph in the socio political struggle for equality,participation and Justice for the disabled, it seems the social model has now outlived its usefulness in its present form and is no longer adequate. It has to be set aside or modified to take it to the next level.Finniest(2001) and Oliver among others who were founding members of PUPAS and had basically ,come up with the definition of the social model of Disability, both argue that the social model was foundational having accomplished its major objective of highlighting the oppressive nature of the biomedical approach to understanding disability. However it has ignored the impairment aspect of the equation.Finniest acknowledges that impairment was part and parcel of the struggle, a prerequisite of disability.
Moreover, on reviewing PUPAS Finniest recounts that in the sass’s (AAA, p. 5). Alt was clear to them then that disability had to be interpreted in the second sense. It is society that disables us and disabled people are an oppressed social group. In order to overcome this oppression they had to conceptually separate any causal connection between impairment and disability.In his and PUPAS view, any emphasis of personal experiences is only acceptable if it serves in further strengthening the broader struggle for social change. The social model of disability has been enormously influential and has led some to argue that in accepting this model, disabled people have formed a new social movement Oliver and Garb ( 1989) cited in Giddiness (2009).
Furthermore he objects to the fact that too much has been invested in the social model of disability as if it was an explanation, benefiting or theory which C.Thomas (2004) believes is yet to be, although she is convinced that Finniest and Hunt both materialist have a materialist agenda or conceptualization of disability. To some critics the fault found with the social model is synonymous with a faults of a materialist perspective. Finniest, . Gleeson (1999) all writers of materialist leanings have tackled the materialist agenda in their work to establish the causal economic mechanism that worked to generate disability from the period of feudalism to capitalism of modern day.Shakespeare and Watson (2002:11) critiqued the social model as faulty ND having a materialist and Marxist leaning and called for its abandonment because of its conceptual separation of impairment from disability and its assertion that people with impairments are disabled by society We are not Just disabled people we are also people with impairment and to pretend otherwise is to ignore a major part of our biographies’.Some post- structuralisms like Corker(1998)also took issue with the supposed modernist separation of impairment and disability.
They saw impairment and disability as impossible to divide or non dichotomous but rather efferent places on a continuum or different aspects of a single experience, Disability has been described by them as ‘a complex dialectic of biological, psychological, cultural and socio-political factors which cannot be extricated except with imprecision (Shakespeare ; Watson 2001 ,pop).