The Social Construction of Disability, by Debra Shogan

People do not ‘have’ diseases, which are really descriptive mechanisms created by contemporary medicine. People have stories, and the stories are narratives of their lives, their relationships, and the way they experience an illness.” Arthur Kleinman, The Illness Narratives

This is another article that echoes some of the same ideas that Davis put forward, in particular of how Galton took Quetelet’s idea of the normal man and adapted it so that average came to represent mediocrity, and the upper quartile of the distribution curve represented progress and perfection, thus eliminating abnormality. In fact, the appropriation of the law of error to explain stability in social statistics has never been called into question: Continue reading “The Social Construction of Disability, by Debra Shogan”

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Martha’s Vineyard

I was intrigued by the phenomenon of Martha’s Vineyard and decided to explore it in more depth. In Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language, an article that was published a few years before the release of her seminal book of the same name, Nora Groce wrote about the history of deafness and sign language among the island’s population and provides some firsthand testimony from the elder members of the community who could still recall sign language being an integral part of community life (it has now fallen into disuse). Continue reading “Martha’s Vineyard”

The Thrice Shy: Cultural Accommodation to Blindness and Other Disasters in a Mexican Community, by John Langston Gwaltney

John Langston Gwaltney provides another account of how a condition that in other societies would have been disabling was accepted and accommodated for within a particular community. Continue reading “The Thrice Shy: Cultural Accommodation to Blindness and Other Disasters in a Mexican Community, by John Langston Gwaltney”