Encyclopedia of Gerontology and Population Aging

Living Edition
| Editors: Danan Gu, Matthew E. Dupre

Biosocial Model of Disability

  • Maria BerghsEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-69892-2_483-1



Biosocial model of disability is the biological identification of genetic risks or traits that would lead to the creation of new social groups based on biological disability.


Disability and aging are part of the human condition. According to the World Report on Disability (WHO 2011, p. 5), 15% of the world’s population or over one billion people are living with a form of disability, and over 200 million of these people have “difficulties in functioning.” The number of disabilities is only going to increase and will affect older people in particular, as life expectancy globally increases (UNFPA and HelpAge International 2012). Due to innovations in medical technology and ongoing improvements in living conditions and environment, people with disabilities have a...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) (2018) World Alzheimer’s report: the state of the art of dementia research – new frontiers. ADI, LondonGoogle Scholar
  2. Armstrong D (1995) The rise of surveillance medicine. Sociol Health Illn 17(3):393–404.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.ep10933329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Banks LM, Kuper H, Polack S (2017) Poverty and disability in low-and middle-income countries: a systematic review. PLoS One 12(12):e0189996.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0204881CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bayen E, Possin KL, Chen Y, de Langavant LC, Yaffe K (2018) Prevalence of aging, dementia, and multimorbidity in older adults with down syndrome. JAMA Neurol 75(11):1399–1406.  https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2018.2210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berghs M (2013) The global economy of care. In: Swain J, French S, Barnes C, Thomas C (eds) Disabling barriers-enabling environments. Sage, London, pp 270–276Google Scholar
  6. Berghs MJ, Atkin KM, Graham HM, Hatton C, Thomas C (2016) Implications for public health research of models and theories of disability: a scoping study and evidence synthesis. Public Health Res 4(8)Google Scholar
  7. Berghs M, Atkin K, Graham H, Hatton C, Thomas C (2017) Public health, research and rights: the perspectives of deliberation panels with politically and socially active disabled people. Disabil Soc 32(7):945–965.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2017.1339588CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Berghs M, Atkin K, Hatton C, Thomas C (2019) Rights to social determinants of flourishing? A paradigm for disability and public health research and policy. BMC Public Health 19(1):997.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-7334-8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clark A (2007) Re-inventing ourselves: the plasticity of embodiment, sensing, and mind. J Med Philos 32(3):263–282.  https://doi.org/10.1080/03605310701397024CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fleischer DZ, Zames FD, Zames F (2012) The disability rights movement: from charity to confrontation. Temple University Press, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  11. Groce NE (2018) Global disability: an emerging issue. Lancet Glob Health 6(7):e724–e725.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(18)30265-1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Groce N, Kett M, Lang R, Trani JF (2011) Disability and poverty: the need for a more nuanced understanding of implications for development policy and practice. Third World Q 32(8):1493–1513.  https://doi.org/10.1080/01436597.2011.604520CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hughes B (2009) Disability activisms: social model stalwarts and biological citizens. Disabil Soc 24(6):677–688.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09687590903160118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lippman A (1992) Led (astray) by genetic maps: the cartography of the human genome and health care. Soc Sci Med 35(12):1469–1476.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0277-9536(92)90049-VCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Marmot M (2005) Social determinants of health inequalities. Lancet 365(9464):1099–1104.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(05)71146-6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mikton C, Shakespeare T (2014) Introduction to special issue on violence against people with disability. J Interpers Violence 29(17):3055–3062.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260514534531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Oliver M (1983) Social work with disabled people. Macmillan, BasingstokeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Oliver M (2013) The social model of disability: thirty years on. Disabil Soc 28(7):1024–1026.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2013.818773CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Papadopoulos D (2011) The imaginary of plasticity: neural embodiment, epigenetics and ecomorphs. Sociol Rev 59(3):432–456.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-954X.2011.02025.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rabinow P (2010) Artificiality and enlightenment: from sociobiology to biosociality. Politix 2:21–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Rose N, Novas C (2004) Biological citizenship. In: Ong A, Collier SJ (eds) Global assemblages: technology, politics, and ethics as anthropological problems. Blackwell, New York, pp 439–463Google Scholar
  22. Shakespeare T (2015) Gene editing: heed disability views. Nature 527(7579):446CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Shakespeare T, Zeilig H, Mittler P (2017) Rights in mind: thinking differently about dementia and disability. Dementia 18(3):1075–1088.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1471301217701506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Singh I, Rose N (2009) Biomarkers in psychiatry. Nature 460(7252):202.  https://doi.org/10.1038/460202aCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Swaffer K (2015) Dementia and prescribed disengagement™. Dementia 14:3–6.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1471301214548136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS) (1976) Fundamental principles of disability. Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation, LondonGoogle Scholar
  27. United Nations (UN) (2006) Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. UN, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  28. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and HelpAge International (2012) Aging in the 21st century: a celebration and a challenge. UNFPA and HelpAge International, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. World Health Organization (2002) Towards a common language for functioning, disability and health ICF. WHO, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  30. World Health Organization (2007) The international classification of functioning, disability and health, children and youth version. WHO, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  31. World Health Organization (WHO) (2001) The international classification of functioning, disability and health (ICF). WHO, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  32. World Health Organization (WHO) (2011) World report on disability. WHO, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  33. Zunzunegui MV, Alvarado BE, Guerra R, Gómez JF, Ylli A, Guralnik JM, IMIAS Research Group (2015) The mobility gap between older men and women: the embodiment of gender. Arch Gerontol Geriatr 61(2):140–148.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.archger.2015.06.005CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leicester School of Allied Health SciencesDe Montfort UniversityLeicesterUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Qiushi Feng
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore