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The Main Concepts Underpinning the 'Social Model' - Essay Example

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Critically outline the main concepts underpinning the ‘social model’ and contrast them to those informing the ‘medical model’ of disability. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each model? Disability is a term widely used for the social condition recognised as resulting from any type of physical or mental impairment mainly identified through medical procedures…
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The Main Concepts Underpinning the Social Model
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Download file to see previous pages Chronic illnesses too should be added to this list. Usually prosthetic devices such as spectacles, magnifying glasses, Braille, hearing aids, sign language, crutches, wheelchairs and other similar aids have been designed to ameliorate handicaps in living, experienced by disabled people. Impairment as ‘the loss or limitation of physical, mental or sensory function on a long-term or permanent basis’, with Disablement defined as ‘the loss or limitation of opportunities to take part in the normal life of the community on an equal level with others due to physical and social barriers’ (Disabled People International, 1981). Since all serious impairments giving rise to disability appear to stem from a recognised medical condition, historically, disability studies relied on a medical model centred almost solely on the individual. Following the medical model the disabled were segregated from ‘normal’ people and seen as deficient, lacking in self-efficacy, needing care. The disabled were defined by their deficiencies, in what they could not do, and not by what they could do. Society at large made no attempt to adjust to the requirements of the disabled, to integrate them, instead tending to isolate them in institutions or at home. Impairment was seen as the problem, and the disabled were restricted to being passive receivers of medication, care, and targeted assistance through state intervention or charity. As befitting the medical model disabled people are regarded as requiring rehabilitation. They are subject to negative stereotyping and prejudice by the rest of society. Further, the ubiquitous built environment imposes restrictions on their mobility, access to employment, and recreation. [(To customer): This is a summary of information put into my words gathered from a very wide range of sources, therefore there is no citation possible, or required] Mike Oliver (2004), an academic with first-hand experience of disability and what it entails, saw the medical model also as an ‘individual model’ making a ‘binary distinction’ between it and the social models developed later by the Disabled People’s Movement. These were based on ‘the distinction originally made between impairment and disability by the Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS 1976). The medical model ‘was underpinned’ by ‘the personal tragedy theory of disability, which Oliver (1990) refers to as the ‘medicalisation ... rather than the medical model of disability’. Oliver discards the idea of a ‘medical model’ saying that ‘there is no such thing. For him, ‘medicalisation of disability is inappropriate’. Instead the ‘social model of disability can provide a more adequate basis for all kinds of professional involvement including that of medical intervention’ (Oliver 1990). According to Oliver, problems attendant on disability should not be regarded exclusively as the responsibility of the medical profession and other ‘experts’ who, from a position of power, see the problem as located in the individual. For Oliver (2004), and most others working in the disability arena around the 1970s, ‘disability is a social state and not a medical condition’. ( These pioneers were influenced by Marxist rhetoric much in evidence at the time. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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