This book provides a clear, focused road map to the study of the body in society. It defines, explains and applies core topics relating to the human body demonstrating how we approach it as a social phenomenon.

Each concept: Includes an easy to understand definition; Provides real-world examples; Gives suggestions for further reading; Is carefully cross-referenced to other related concepts

Written to meet the needs of the modern student this book offers the basic materials, tools and guidance needed study and write about the body.


Definition Ability and disability are bio-psychosocial categories as much as they are markers of the capacities of bodies and/or minds. The medical diagnosis of particular physical and mental conditions leads to people being socially judged as ‘disabled’. Disability is used as a blanket term to distinguish people as not ‘able-bodied’. Ability is a normative term that assumes certain physical and cognitive capacities in the general population, despite the fact that those capacities are widely variable in any population.

Into the 1960s in the developed world, those people who had received a medical diagnosis that put them into the category of what might now be labelled ‘disabled’ were frequently institutionalized. At the time, the terms used – often as playground weapons of insult – were more likely ...

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