9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS01 Sociology and Disability

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Disability, Social Theory and the Body Building II, C3.01

Disabling disability or the making and ameliorating of ontological outsiders

In this paper, I will argue that elimination or correction has been the primary social response to impaired bodies in modernity and that the primary form of experience (of disability), during the same period, has been one of invalidation. Invalidation carries a "dual meaning" as both "confinement through incapacity" and "deficit of credibility" (Hughes 2000: 558) This (latter and more crucial) claim is based on the view that, in the non-disabled imaginary disability is an "ontological deficit" - a reduction of "leib" to "korpor", human to animal, subjectivity to meat, identity to excessive corporeal presence. It is this deficit of credibility that provides the rationale for the disposal of disabled bodies by means of elimination - either through extermination or segregation - or correction, particularly by way of rehabilitation, a practice designed to erase the difference/aversion that disability has come to represent. The paper mobilises the category of "ableism" as well as the argument that this category can be used to suggest that we live in a culture in which the emotional perameters of "pathology" include repulsion and disgust. These emotional responses are, therefore, central to the practices of elimination and correction that provide the "normal" response to disability.