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Social Construction: Disability

  • By: Shelby Forbes
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

A fundamental premise of social constructionism is to question taken-for-granted assumptions about the way things are; in the context of disability, this means questioning beliefs that conceptualize disability in terms of deficit or defect. A social constructionist approach to disability contends that disability is not a universal biological fact, but rather that the meanings and implications of disability are negotiated by individuals through communication. Dominant ways of representing disability can be organized according to two frameworks: the medical model of disability and the social model. Of particular importance to studies in health communication is the medical model, whereby disability is regarded as a problem to be corrected or treated. In direct opposition to the medical model is the social model of disability that identifies physical, ...

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