Social Class and Disability

  • Robert F. Drake


In the book so far, I have examined contrasting theories and definitions of disability and described a variety of possible models for disability policy, all of which have been realised at one time or another somewhere in the world. The spectrum of policy models ranges from the extremely negative (the actual annihilation of disabled people) to the very positive (attempts at legislation aimed at guaranteeing their civil rights). I have also described the historical development of disability policies in Britain and have argued that contemporary policies are based on an individualistic (medical) understanding of how disability arises. Accordingly, such policies as have emerged have been designed partly to pacify, and partly to compensate, disabled people for their exclusion from many aspects of mainstream society. Historically, however, such policies have also reinforced their segregation. This isolation may have taken shape in a concrete way, for example through the development of residential homes and asylums, or it may have arisen through more subtle effects of discrimination (intentional or otherwise) so that exclusion has appeared to be a natural effect resulting from personal impairment rather than social ostracism. Either way, such outcomes are challenged with increasing vigour by disabled people today.


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© Robert F. Drake 1999

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  • Robert F. Drake

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