Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: March 15, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412939645 | Print ISBN: 9781412916080 | Online ISBN: 9781412939645| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this handbook
Chapter 69: The Sociology of Disability
NANCY G. KUTNER
The sociology of disability Disability is a phenomenon that is socially defined, has pervasive social consequences for individuals, and has significant impact on societies (Barnartt 2005). The social reality of disability is characterized by “considerable variation in the experience of impairment by large numbers of people who nonetheless share common conditions of exclusion, marginalization, and disadvantage” (Williams 2001:141). At the same time, in spite of exclusion, marginalization, and disadvantage, the symbolic meaning inherent in disability may be expressed in a strong and positive sense of identity. Disability can also be viewed as a political privilege, in the sense of carrying permission to be exempt from the work-based system, military service, debt, and criminal liability (Stone 1984). In the medical literature, disability is considered to be “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities” (Fried et al. 2004). In this context, disability is ...